26 Oct 2021

26 Oct 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Characterizations of Europe's integrated water vapor and assessments of atmospheric reanalyses using more than two decades of ground-based GPS

Peng Yuan1, Roeland Van Malderen2, Xungang Yin3, Hannes Vogelmann4, Joseph Awange5, Bernhard Heck1, and Hansjörg Kutterer1 Peng Yuan et al.
  • 1Geodetic Institute, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, 76131, Germany
  • 2KMI-IRM, Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, Brussels, B-1180, Belgium
  • 3Riverside Technology Inc, Asheville, NC 28801, USA
  • 4Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, IMK-IFU, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, 82467, Germany
  • 5Curtin University, School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Perth, WA 6845, Australia

Abstract. Ground-based Global Positioning System (GPS) has been extensively used to retrieve Integrated Water Vapor (IWV) and has been adopted as a unique tool for the assessments of atmospheric reanalyses. In this study, we investigated the multi-temporal-scale variabilities and trends of IWV over Europe by using IWV time series from 108 GPS stations for more than two decades (1994–2018). We then adopted the GPS IWV as a reference to assess six commonly-used atmospheric reanalyses, namely CFSR, ERA5, ERA-Interim, JRA55, MERRA2, and NCEP2. The GPS results show that the diurnal cycles peak within 16:00–24:00 local time with peak-to-peak amplitudes accounting for 2 %–18 % of the daily mean. The diurnal 1-hourly anomalies can be much more intensive with a range of −100 % to 200 %. The annual cycles peak in July and August with maximum values of 17–32 kg m−2. The interannual variations of IWV over Europe are found to be mainly linked to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the East Atlantic (EA) patterns. The IWV continues to increase over Europe during the last two decades at 0–0.4 kg m−2 decade−1 in the north and 0.4–1 kg m−2 decade−1 in the south. Regarding the assessments of the reanalyses, the intercomparisons with respect to GPS reveal a general superiority of the newly-released ERA5 IWV product. For instance, ERA5 only has a slight wet bias with a median value of 1 %, whereas the median bias for MERRA2 is 4 %. ERA5, MERRA2, and NCEP2 are the best, second best, and worst performers respectively in modelling the variability of daily IWV time series, with standard deviations of daily IWV differences against GPS by 0.5–1.6, 0.7–2.3, and 1.2–3.0 kg m−2, respectively. Moreover, the daily GPS IWV time series is best correlated with the ERA5 IWV with a median Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.996, whereas the second strongest and weakest median correlations are observed in MERRA2 and NCEP2 with values of 0.991 and 0.971, respectively. Furthermore, the correlations between the IWV trends from the reanalyses and GPS are strongest for ERA5 (0.82), a bit weaker for MERRA2 (0.72), and weakest for NCEP2 (0.52).

Peng Yuan et al.

Status: open (until 18 Dec 2021)

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Peng Yuan et al.


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Short summary
Water vapor plays an important role in various weather and climate processes. However, due to its large spatiotemporal variability, its high-accuracy quantification remains a challenge. In this study, 20+ years of GPS-derived Integrated Water Vapor (IWV) retrievals in Europe were obtained. They were then used to characterize the temporal features of Europe’s IWV and assess six atmospheric reanalyses. Results show that the ERA5 outperforms the other reanalyses at most temporal scales.