Articles | Volume 21, issue 2
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-21-779-2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-21-779-2017
Research article
 | 
08 Feb 2017
Research article |  | 08 Feb 2017

The residence time of water in the atmosphere revisited

Ruud J. van der Ent and Obbe A. Tuinenburg

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Short summary
This research seeks out to answer a fundamental question about the functioning of the water cycle in the atmosphere: how much time does a water particle spend in the atmosphere? Based on state-of-the-art data, we derive a global average residence time of water in the atmosphere of 8–10 days. We further show in this paper how the residence time of water varies in time and space. This serves to illustrate why it is so difficult to make weather predictions on timescales longer than a week.