Articles | Volume 14, issue 19
Research article
14 Oct 2014
Research article |  | 14 Oct 2014

Comparison of Fast In situ Stratospheric Hygrometer (FISH) measurements of water vapor in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS) with ECMWF (re)analysis data

A. Kunz, N. Spelten, P. Konopka, R. Müller, R. M. Forbes, and H. Wernli

Abstract. An evaluation of water vapor in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS) of the ERA-Interim, the global atmospheric reanalysis produced by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), is presented. Water vapor measurements are derived from the Fast In situ Stratospheric Hygrometer (FISH) during a large set of airborne measurement campaigns from 2001 to 2011 in the tropics, midlatitudes and polar regions, covering isentropic layers from 300 to 400K (5–18km).

The comparison shows around 87% of the reanalysis data are within a factor of 2 of the FISH water vapor measurements and around 30% have a nearly perfect agreement with an over- and underestimation lower than 10%. Nevertheless, strong over- and underestimations can occur both in the UT and LS, in particularly in the extratropical LS and in the tropical UT, where severe over- and underestimations up to 10 times can occur.

The analysis data from the evolving ECMWF operational system is also evaluated, and the FISH measurements are divided into time periods representing different cycles of the Integrated Forecast System (IFS). The agreement with FISH improves over the time, in particular when comparing water vapor fields for time periods before 2004 and after 2010. It appears that influences of tropical tropospheric and extratropical UTLS processes, e.g., convective and quasi-isentropic exchange processes, are particularly challenging for the simulation of the UTLS water vapor distribution. Both the reanalysis and operational analysis data show the tendency of an overestimation of low water vapor mixing ratio (⪅10ppmv) in the LS and underestimation of high water vapor mixing ratio (⪆300ppmv) in the UT.

Final-revised paper