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Research towards the next generation of NOAA Climate Reanalyses

The fidelity of new reanalysis datasets (MERRA, 20CR, CFSR, ERA-Interim) at representing climate variability of the 20th century has enabled significant advances in climate research. In this research proposal, we will investigate known shortcomings of these datasets, while developing a framework for a new NOAA Climate Reanalysis (NCR) system to ameliorate them. The NCR will eventually have four “streams” to meet the various user needs for reanalysis information:

Stream 0: Boundary-forced, 1850-present “AMIP” simulation with large ensemble
Stream 1: Historical, 1850-present using only surface data
Stream 2: Modern, 1946-present using only surface and conventional upper air data
Stream 3: Satellite, 1973-present using quality-controlled satellites, Global Positioning System Radio Occultation, and surface and conventional upper air data.

One of the foci of this research will be to use observing system experiments. In these, the 2000-2010 observing system is reduced to that of selected historical periods to investigate the impact to the time-varying quality and density of the observing system and determine ways to reduce this impact. We will use innovative methods to assess the relative importance and impact of model errors and observational errors on the quality and homogeneity of the reanalysis fields, with particular attention to reducing or eliminating spurious jumps and trends. The framework for the NCR system will leverage recent advances in operational data assimilation for global weather prediction, as well as newly digitized observational datasets and global model improvements. While initially focusing on the atmosphere to develop the NCR framework, this project will serve as the basis for further NCR efforts, incorporating advancements generated by other projects supported by MAPP, such as integration of ocean, chemistry, and land components and the treatment of observational and model biases. International coordination and data sharing with NOAA’s reanalysis partners at NASA, ACRE, ECWMF, and JMA and synergies from the NOAA Reanalysis Task Force will be crucial in achieving the project’s goals on a limited budget.

This project is directly related to foci 1 of Priority 1 of the MAPP call for proposals. It is directly relevant to NOAA’s Next-Generation Strategic Plan goals for climate adaptation and mitigation. As noted by the WMO Global Framework on Climate Services, reanalyses are a key component of the climate information needed for informed decision making for climate change mitigation and adaption. The NGSP recognizes that a strong scientific basis is needed for developing “climate adaptation and mitigation” strategies, which will require “improved scientific understanding of the changing climate system and its impacts” and “assessments of current and future states of the climate system.” For NOAA to achieve these objectives, we must develop climate reanalysis products that are free of artificial trends and that provide reliable information about the frequency of weather and climate extremes. This proposal directly addresses the MAPP call to pursue research on “Outstanding issues in atmospheric reanalysis”, in particular by attempting to “overcome the impact of data inhomogeneities due to changes in the observing system and data biases”, “overcome the impact of model bias”, “better quantify uncertainties in reanalysis data including the impacts of data and model error”, and “exploit new data”.

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