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  • Author or Editor: Manuela Girotto x
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Rolf H. Reichle, Clara S. Draper, Q. Liu, Manuela Girotto, Sarith P. P. Mahanama, Randal D. Koster, and Gabrielle J. M. De Lannoy


The MERRA-2 atmospheric reanalysis product provides global, 1-hourly estimates of land surface conditions for 1980–present at ~50-km resolution. MERRA-2 uses observations-based precipitation to force the land (unlike its predecessor, MERRA). This paper evaluates MERRA-2 and MERRA land hydrology estimates, along with those of the land-only MERRA-Land and ERA-Interim/Land products, which also use observations-based precipitation. Overall, MERRA-2 land hydrology estimates are better than those of MERRA-Land and MERRA. A comparison against GRACE satellite observations of terrestrial water storage demonstrates clear improvements in MERRA-2 over MERRA in South America and Africa but also reflects known errors in the observations used to correct the MERRA-2 precipitation. Validation against in situ measurements from 220–320 stations in North America, Europe, and Australia shows that MERRA-2 and MERRA-Land have the highest surface and root zone soil moisture skill, slightly higher than that of ERA-Interim/Land and higher than that of MERRA (significantly for surface soil moisture). Snow amounts from MERRA-2 have lower bias and correlate better against reference data from the Canadian Meteorological Centre than do those of MERRA-Land and MERRA, with MERRA-2 skill roughly matching that of ERA-Interim/Land. Validation with MODIS satellite observations shows that MERRA-2 has a lower snow cover probability of detection and probability of false detection than MERRA, owing partly to MERRA-2’s lower midwinter, midlatitude snow amounts and partly to MERRA-2’s revised snow depletion curve parameter compared to MERRA. Finally, seasonal anomaly R values against naturalized streamflow measurements in the United States are, on balance, highest for MERRA-2 and ERA-Interim/Land, somewhat lower for MERRA-Land, and lower still for MERRA (significantly in four basins).

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