An evaluation of the performance of the twentieth century reanalysis version 3

L. C. Slivinski*, G. P. Compo, P. D. Sardeshmukh, J. S. Whitaker, C. McColl, R. J. Allan, P. Brohan, X. Yin, C. A. Smith, L. J. Spencer, R. S. Vose, M. Rohrer, R. P. Conroy, D. C. Schuster, J. J. Kennedy, L. Ashcroft, S. Brönnimann, M. Brunet, D. Camuffo, R. CornesT. A. Cram, F. Domínguez-Castro, J. E. Freeman, J. Gergis, E. Hawkins, P. D. Jones, H. Kubota, T. C. Lee, A. M. Lorrey, J. Luterbacher, C. J. Mock, R. K. Przybylak, C. Pudmenzky, V. C. Slonosky, B. Tinz, B. Trewin, X. L. Wang, C. Wilkinson, K. Wood, P. Wyszynski

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    94 Citations (Scopus)


    The performance of a new historical reanalysis, the NOAA–CIRES–DOE Twentieth Century Reanalysis version 3 (20CRv3), is evaluated via comparisons with other reanalyses and independent observations. This dataset provides global, 3-hourly estimates of the atmosphere from 1806 to 2015 by assimilating only surface pressure observations and prescribing sea surface temperature, sea ice concentration, and radiative forcings. Comparisons with independent observations, other reanalyses, and satellite products suggest that 20CRv3 can reliably produce atmospheric estimates on scales ranging from weather events to long-term climatic trends. Not only does 20CRv3 recreate a ‘‘best estimate’’ of the weather, including extreme events, it also provides an estimate of its confidence through the use of an ensemble. Surface pressure statistics suggest that these confidence estimates are reliable. Comparisons with independent upper-air observations in the Northern Hemisphere demonstrate that 20CRv3 has skill throughout the twentieth century. Upper-air fields from 20CRv3 in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century correlate well with full-input reanalyses, and the correlation is predicted by the confidence fields from 20CRv3. The skill of analyzed 500-hPa geopotential heights from 20CRv3 for 1979–2015 is comparable to that of modern operational 3–4-day forecasts. Finally, 20CRv3 performs well on climate time scales. Long time series and multidecadal averages of mass, circulation, and precipitation fields agree well with modern reanalyses and station- and satellite-based products. 20CRv3 is also able to capture trends in tropospheric-layer temperatures that correlate well with independent products in the twentieth century, placing recent trends in a longer historical context.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1417-1438
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Climate
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2021


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