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Bingkun Luo
Peter J. Minnett
Malgorzata Szczodrak
Nicholas R. Nalli
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Vernon R. Morris


Satellite and in situ measurements of the sea surface and the atmosphere often have inadequate sampling frequencies and often lack consistent global coverage. Because of such limitations, reanalysis model output is frequently used in atmospheric and oceanographic research endeavors to complement satellite and in situ data. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Goddard Earth Sciences Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications version 2 (MERRA-2) and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) interim reanalysis (ERA-Interim) datasets provide accurate, complete fields through the assimilation of many atmospheric and surface observations. Still, the reanalysis output data must be rigorously and continuously evaluated to understand their strengths and weaknesses. To this end, this study evaluates sea surface skin temperature (SSTskin) and atmospheric temperature and humidity profiles in MERRA-2 and ERA-Interim data through comparisons with independent Marine-Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer (M-AERI) and radiosonde data from the Aerosols and Ocean Science Expeditions (AEROSE) cruises, focusing on the representation of spatial and temporal variability. SSTskin values are generally in good agreement with corresponding M-AERI measurements, with the average differences on the order of 0.1 K. Comparisons between MERRA-2 and ERA-Interim relative humidity and air temperature profiles with a total of 553 radiosondes that have been withheld from data assimilation schemes show good correspondence below 500 hPa: the average air temperature difference is <2 K and the average relative humidity discrepancy is within 10%. These results support the use of these MERRA-2 and ERA-Interim reanalysis fields in a variety of research applications.

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