Global Comparisons of ERA5 and the Operational HRES Tropospheric Delay and Water Vapor Products With GPS and MODIS

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Published in Earth and Space Science, 2021

Yu C., Li Z., & Blewitt G.


Precipitable water vapor (PWV) from numerical weather models, such as the latest generation of European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) reanalysis (ERA5) and the ECMWF High RESolution (HRES) models, are important to meteorological studies and to error mitigation of geodetic observations such as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar. In this study, we provide global validations of these new weather models with respect to Global Positioning System (GPS, ∼13,000 stations) and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS, ∼1 km resolution) using data from January 2016 to December 2018 of every 1 h. The global standard deviations of the Zenith Tropospheric Delay (ZTD) differences (DSTDs) between weather models and GPS are 1.69 cm for ERA5 and 1.54 cm for HRES. The global PWV DSTDs between weather models and MODIS are 0.34 cm for ERA5 and 0.32 cm for HRES. The two weather models generally perform better in western North America, Europe, and Arctic by having low ZTD DSTDs (<1.3 cm) or PWV DSTDs (<0.3 cm). HRES also has a low ZTD DSTD of less than 1.3 cm in Antarctic, Japan, New Zealand, and Africa and outperforms ERA5 in most regions of the world, despite the fact that 83% of the HRES PWV values are temporally interpolated (from 6 to 1-h). However, under extreme weather conditions, ERA5 performs better owing to its high temporal resolution (1 h). Our results can be used as a global reference for evaluating uncertainties when utilizing these weather models.

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