Evaluation of the reanalysis products from GSFC, NCEP, and ECMWF using flux tower observations

Mark Decker, Michael A. Brunke, Zhuo Wang, Koichi Sakaguchi, Xubin Zeng, Michael G. Bosilovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

249 Scopus citations


Reanalysis products produced at the various centers around the globe are utilized formany different scientific endeavors, including forcing land surface models and creating surface flux estimates. Here, flux tower observations of temperature, wind speed, precipitation, downward shortwave radiation, net surface radiation, and latent and sensible heat fluxes are used to evaluate the performance of various reanalysis products [NCEP-NCAR reanalysis and Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) from NCEP; 40-yr European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Re-Analysis (ERA-40) and ECMWF Interim Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim) from ECMWF; and Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) and Global Land Data Assimilation System (GLDAS) from the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)]. To combine the biases and standard deviation of errors from the separate stations, a ranking systemis utilized. It is found thatERA-Interimhas the lowest overall bias in 6-hourly air temperature, followed closely by MERRA and GLDAS. The variability in 6-hourly air temperature is again most accurate in ERA-Interim. ERA-40 is found to have the lowest overall bias in latent heat flux, followed closely by CFSR, while ERA-40 also has the lowest 6-hourly sensible heat bias. MERRA has the second lowest and is close to ERA-40. The variability in 6-hourly precipitation is best captured byGLDAS and ERA-Interim, and ERA-40 has the lowest precipitation bias. It is also found that at monthly time scales, the bias term in the reanalysis products are the dominant cause of the mean square errors, while at 6-hourly and daily time scales the dominant contributor to the mean square errors is the correlation term. Also, it is found that the hourly CFSR data have discontinuities present due to the assimilation cycle, while the hourly MERRA data do not contain these jumps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1916-1944
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Atmosphere-land interaction
  • Land surface model
  • Model evaluation/performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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