Estimating observation and model error variances using multiple data sets

Anthes, Richard; Rieckh, Therese

In this paper we show how multiple data sets, including observations and models, can be combined using the “three-cornered hat” (3CH) method to estimate vertical profiles of the errors of each system. Using data from 2007, we estimate the error variances of radio occultation (RO), radiosondes, ERA-Interim, and Global Forecast System (GFS) model data sets at four radiosonde locations in the tropics and subtropics. A key assumption is the neglect of error covariances among the different data sets, and we examine the consequences of this assumption on the resulting error estimates. Our results show that different combinations of the four data sets yield similar relative and specific humidity, temperature, and refractivity error variance profiles at the four stations, and these estimates are consistent with previous estimates where available. These results thus indicate that the correlations of the errors among all data sets are small and the 3CH method yields realistic error variance profiles. The estimated error variances of the ERA-Interim data set are smallest, a reasonable result considering the excellent model and data assimilation system and assimilation of high-quality observations. For the four locations studied, RO has smaller error variances than radiosondes, in agreement with previous studies. Part of the larger error variance of the radiosondes is associated with representativeness differences because radiosondes are point measurements, while the other data sets represent horizontal averages over scales of inline-formula∼ 100 km.



Anthes, Richard / Rieckh, Therese: Estimating observation and model error variances using multiple data sets. 2018. Copernicus Publications.


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