The primary purpose of the reanalysis effort is to advance climate studies by eliminating fictitious trends caused by model and data assimilation changes that occurred in real time. Reanalyses are to represent the observations as closely as possible and could be used as surrogates where observations are not available. Each generation of reanalyses has improved upon its predecessor in many ways by: reduction of errors, increased spatial and vertical resolution, and addition of more variables. The current generation of reanalyses provides more information about the stratosphere than previous versions. This is important for monitoring the impacts of climate change and ozone depletion on the stratospheric circulation and the stratospheric interactions with the troposphere. Assessments of the stratosphere in the latest generation of reanalyses revealed several issues that may hinder the full use of these reanalyses for climate studies. This was particularly true for the NOAA Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR). This reanalysis contains jumps in data records during stream transitions, warming trends in the upper stratosphere between streams, poor representation of the Quasibiennial Oscillation (QBO) winds, ozone observations not being assimilated in the upper stratosphere, and poor representation of water vapor above the tropopause. It is important to rectify these issues before the next NOAA reanalysis effort.
We propose to address the climate objectives outlined in the NOAA Next Generation Strategic Plan (NGSP) and a major CPO/Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) Program priority: Research to Advance Climate Reanalysis, particularly “issues with the quality of reanalyses in the stratosphere” by improving the characterization of the stratosphere in reanalysis by building upon research conducted following the CFSR. We propose to: reduce the impacts of data inhomogenuity on temperature and ozone, to improve the thermal structure of the upper stratosphere, improve the representation of the QBO winds and residual circulation in the tropics, and improve the depiction of ozone and water vapor in the stratosphere. Success in providing these improvements will lead to a better characterization of the stratosphere. A well characterized stratosphere may enable better weather and climate research and services by: 1) providing a more accurate depiction of past weather and climate conditions, 2) improving the monitoring of current climate conditions, and 3) enabling the attribution of climate variations and change by comparison with past conditions.