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Consistency of temperature and precipitation extremes across various global gridded in situ and reanalysis data sets

M Donat, S. Wild, L. Alexander, T. Lippmann, Jana Sillmann, Francis W. Zwiers

Changes in climate extremes are often monitored with global gridded data sets of climate extremes based on in situ observations or reanalysis data. In this study, we assess the consistency in temperature and precipitation extremes between these data sets. We compare both the temporal evolution and spatial patterns of annual extremes of daily values across multiple global gridded data sets of in situ observations and reanalyses to make inferences on the robustness of the obtained results. While normalized time series generally compare well, the actual values of annual extremes of daily data differ systematically across the different data sets. This is partly related to different computational approaches when calculating the gridded fields of climate extremes. We find strong agreement between extreme temperatures in the different in situ-based datasets. Larger differences are found for temperature extremes from the reanalyses, particularly during the pre-satellite era, indicating that reanalyses are most consistent with purely observational-based analyses of changes in climate extremes for the three most recent decades. In terms of both temporal and spatial correlations, the ECMWF reanalyses tend to show greater agreement with the gridded in situ-based data sets than the NCEP and JRA reanalyses. Extreme precipitation is characterized by higher temporal and spatial variability than extreme temperatures and there is less agreement between different data sets than for temperature. However, reasonable agreement between the gridded observational data sets remains. Extreme precipitation patterns and time series from reanalyses show lower agreement but generally still correlate significantly.

More details

  • Year: 2014
  • Journal: Journal of Climate
  • Language: English
  • Volume: 27
  • Issue: 3
  • Page: 5019 - 5035
  • Issn: 0894-8755
  • Publisher: American Meteorological Society