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Michael G. Bosilovich, Jiun-Dar Chern, David Mocko, Franklin R. Robertson, and Arlindo M. da Silva


The assimilation of observations in reanalyses incurs the potential for the physical terms of budgets to be balanced by a term relating the fit of the observations relative to a forecast first guess analysis. This may indicate a limitation in the physical processes of the background model or perhaps assimilating data from an inconsistent observing system. In the MERRA reanalysis, an area of long-term moisture flux divergence over land has been identified over the central United States. Here, the water vapor budget is evaluated in this region, taking advantage of two unique features of the MERRA diagnostic output: 1) a closed water budget that includes the analysis increment and 2) a gridded diagnostic output dataset of the assimilated observations and their innovations (e.g., forecast departures).

In the central United States, an anomaly occurs where the analysis adds water to the region, while precipitation decreases and moisture flux divergence increases. This is related more to a change in the observing system than to a deficiency in the model physical processes. MERRA’s Gridded Innovations and Observations (GIO) data narrow the observations that influence this feature to the ATOVS and Aqua satellites during the 0600 and 1800 UTC analysis cycles, when radiosonde information is not prevalent. Observing system experiments further narrow the instruments that affect the anomalous feature to AMSU-A (mainly window channels) and Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS). This effort also shows the complexities of the observing system and the reactions of the regional water budgets in reanalyses to the assimilated observations.

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