Researchers at the Colorado-based National Center for Atmospheric Research analyzed how well 16 of the leading climate models were able to verify relative humidity in the tropics and subtropics in recent years.
They found that the models that most accurately predicted the atmospheric moisture and its associated cloud cover also predict the greatest warming in the future.
“There is a striking relationship between how well climate models simulate relative humidity in key areas and how much warming they show in response to increasing carbon dioxide,” said NCAR scientist John Fasullo.
The findings, published in the journal Science, could narrow the range of global warming expected in coming decades and beyond, the researchers said.
That means government and private institutions could be better prepared to cope with the resulting floods, droughts, sea level rises and fiercer storms likely to accompany the global warming.