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Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-2019-315
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-2019-315
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: model evaluation paper 21 Jan 2020

Submitted as: model evaluation paper | 21 Jan 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

Evaluating the surface energy partitioning in ERA5

Brecht Martens1, Dominik L. Schumacher1, Hendrik Wouters1,3, Joaquín Muñoz-Sabater2, Niko E. C. Verhoest1, and Diego G. Miralles1 Brecht Martens et al.
  • 1Laboratory of Hydrology and Water Management – Ghent University, Coupure links 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
  • 2European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), Shinfield Park, Reading, RG2 9AX, United Kingdom
  • 3Flemish Institute for Technological Research – Environmental Modelling Unit, Boeretang 200, 2400 Mol, Belgium

Abstract. Climate reanalyses provide a plethora of global atmospheric and surface parameters in a consistent manner over multi-decadal time scales. Hence, they are widely-used in many fields, and an in-depth evaluation of the different variables provided by reanalyses is a necessary means to provide feedback on the quality to their users and the operational centers producing these data sets, and to help guiding their development. Recently, the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast (ECMWF) released the new state-of-the-art climate reanalysis ERA5, following up on its popular predecessor ERA-Interim. Different sets of variables from ERA5 were already evaluated in a handful of studies, but so far, the quality of surface energy partitioning has not been assessed yet. Here, we evaluate the surface energy partitioning over land in ERA5, and concentrate on the appraisal of the surface latent heat flux, surface sensible heat flux, and Bowen ratio against different reference data sets and using different modelling tools. Most of our analyses point towards a better quality of surface energy partitioning in ERA5 than in ERA-Interim, which may be attributed to a better representation of land-surface processes in ERA5, and certainly to the better quality of near-surface meteorological variables. One of the key shortcomings of the reanalyses identified in our study is the overestimation of the surface latent heat flux, which – although substantially lower than in ERA-Interim – still remains in ERA5. Overall, our results indicate the high quality of the surface turbulent fluxes from ERA5 and the general improvement upon ERA-Interim, thereby endorsing the efforts of ECMWF to improve their climate reanalysis and to provide useful data to many scientific and operational fields.

Brecht Martens et al.

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Brecht Martens et al.

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Short summary
Climate reanalyses are widely-used by in different fields and an in-depth evaluation of the different variables provided by reanalyses is a necessary means to provide feedback on the quality to their users and the operational centers producing these data sets. In this study, we show the improvements of ECMWF's latest climate reanalysis (ERA5) upon its predecessor (ERA-Interim) in partitioning the available energy at the land surface.
Climate reanalyses are widely-used by in different fields and an in-depth evaluation of the...
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