The currently available model-based global data sets of atmospheric circulation are a by-product of the daily requirement of producing initial conditions for numerical weather prediction (NWP) models. These data sets have been quite useful for studying fundamental dynamical and physical processes, and for describing the nature of the general circulation of the atmosphere. However, due to limitations in the early data assimilation systems and inconsistencies caused by numerous model changes, the available model-based global data sets may not be suitable for studying global climate change.

A comprehensive analysis of global observations based on a four-dimensional data assimilation system with a realistic physical model should be undertaken to integrate space and in situ observations to produce internally consistent, homogeneous, multivariate data sets for the earth's climate system. The concept is equally applicable for producing data sets for the atmosphere, the oceans, and the biosphere, and such data sets will be quite useful for studying global climate change.

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1 European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts, Shinfield Park, Reading, Berkshire RG2 9AX, England.

2 Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Interactions, Department of Meteorology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 20742.