Evaluating Global Reanalysis Datasets for Provision of Boundary Conditions in Regional Climate Modelling.

Moalafhi, D., J.P. Evans and A. Sharma
Climate Dynamics, doi: 10.1007/s00382-016-2994-x, 2015.


Regional climate modelling studies often begin by downscaling a reanalysis dataset in order to simulate the observed climate, allowing the investigation of regional climate processes and quantification of the errors associated with the regional model. To date choice of reanalysis to perform such downscaling has been made based either on convenience or on performance of the reanalyses within the regional domain for relevant variables such as near-surface air temperature and precipitation. However, the only information passed from the reanalysis to the regional model are the atmospheric temperature, moisture and winds at the location of the boundaries of the regional domain. Here we present a methodology to evaluate reanalyses derived lateral boundary conditions for an example domain over southern Africa using satellite data. This study focusses on atmospheric temperature and moisture which are easily available. Five commonly used global reanalyses (NCEP1, NCEP2, ERA-I, 20CRv2, and MERRA) are evaluated against the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder satellite temperature and relative humidity over boundaries of two domains centred on southern Africa for the years 2003–2012 inclusive. The study reveals that MERRA is the most suitable for climate mean with NCEP1 the next most suitable. For climate variability, ERA-I is the best followed by MERRA. Overall, MERRA is preferred for generating lateral boundary conditions for this domain, followed by ERA-I. While a “better” LBC specification is not the sole precursor to an improved downscaling outcome, any reduction in uncertainty associated with the specification of LBCs is a step in the right direction.

Key Figure

Fig. 3 Vertical contour plots of Temperature mean bias (K) for the eastern and western boundary panels

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