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  • Author or Editor: Franklin R. Robertson x
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Michael G. Bosilovich
Junye Chen
Franklin R. Robertson
, and
Robert F. Adler


Retrospective-analysis (or reanalysis) systems merge observations and models to provide global four-dimensional earth system data encompassing many physical and dynamical processes. Precipitation is one critical diagnostic that is not only sensitive to the observing system and model physics, but also reflects the general circulation. Climate records of observed precipitation through a merged satellite and gauge dataset provide a reference for comparison, though not without their own uncertainty. In this study, five reanalyses precipitation fields are compared with two observed data products to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the reanalyses. Taylor diagrams show the skill of the reanalyses relative to the reference dataset. While there is a general sense that the reanalyses precipitation data are improving in recent systems, it is not always the case. In some ocean regions, NCEP–NCAR reanalysis spatial patterns are closer to observed precipitation than NCEP–Department of Energy. The 40-yr ECMWF reanalysis (ERA-40) produces reasonable comparisons over Northern Hemisphere continents, but less so in the tropical oceans. On the other hand, the most recent reanalysis, the Japanese 25-yr reanalysis (JRA-25), shows good comparisons in both the Northern Hemisphere continents and the tropical oceans but contains distinct variation according to the available observing systems. The statistics and methods used are also tested on short experiments from a data assimilation system proposed to perform a satellite-era reanalysis.

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