Evaluation of Total Column Water Vapour Products from Satellite Observations and Reanalyses within the GEWEX Water Vapor Assessment
Abstract. Since 2011 the Global Energy and Water cycle Exchanges (GEWEX) Water Vapor Assessment (G-VAP) has provided performance analyses for state-of-the-art reanalysis and satellite water vapour products to the GEWEX Data and Analysis Panel (GDAP) and the user community in general. A significant component of the work undertaken by G-VAP is to characterise the quality and uncertainty of these water vapour records to; i) ensure full exploitation and ii) avoid incorrect use or interpretation of results. This study presents results from the second phase of G-VAP, where we have extended and expanded our analysis of Total Column Water Vapour (TCWV) from phase 1, in conjunction with updating the G-VAP archive. For version 2 of the archive, we consider 28 freely available and mature satellite and reanalysis data products, remapped to a regular longitude-latitude grid of 2°× 2°, and on monthly time steps between January 1979 and December 2019. We first analysed all records for a 'common' short period of five years (2005–2009), focusing on variability (spatial & seasonal) and deviation from the ensemble mean. We observed that clear-sky daytime-only satellite products were generally drier than the ensemble mean, and seasonal variability/disparity in several regions up to 12 kg/m2 related to original spatial resolution and temporal sampling. For 11 of the 28 data records, further analysis was undertaken between 1988–2014. Within this 'long period', key results show i) trends between -1.18±0.68 to 3.82±3.94 kg/m2/decade and -0.39±0.27 to 1.24±0.85 kg/m2/decade were found over ice-free global oceans and land surfaces respectively, and ii) regression coefficients of TWCV against surface temperatures of 6.17±0.24 to 27.02±0.51 %/K over oceans (using sea surface temperature) and 3.00±0.17 to 7.77±0.16 %/K over land (using surface air temperature). It is important to note that trends estimated within G-VAP are used to identify issues in the data records rather than analyse climate change. Additionally, breakpoints have been identified and characterised for both land and ocean surfaces within this period. Finally, we present a spatial analysis of correlations to six climate indices within the “long period”, highlighting regional areas of significant positive and negative correlation and the level of agreement among records.
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