The Sailor diagram – A new diagram for the verification of two-dimensional vector data from multiple models

Sáenz, Jon; Carreno-Madinabeitia, Sheila; Esnaola, Ganix; González-Rojí, Santos J.; Ibarra-Berastegi, Gabriel; Ulazia, Alain

A new diagram is proposed for the verification of vector quantities generated by multiple models against a set of observations. It has been designed with the objective, as in the Taylor diagram, of providing a visual diagnostic tool which allows an easy comparison of simulations by multiple models against a reference dataset. However, the Sailor diagram extends this ability to two-dimensional quantities such as currents, wind, horizontal fluxes of water vapour and other geophysical variables by adding features which allow us to evaluate directional properties of the data as well. The diagram is based on the analysis of the two-dimensional structure of the mean squared error matrix between model and observations. This matrix is separated in a part corresponding to the bias and the relative rotation of the two orthogonal directions (empirical orthogonal functions; EOFs) which best describe the vector data. Since there is no truncation of the retained EOFs, these orthogonal directions explain the total variability of the original dataset. We test the performance of this new diagram to identify the differences amongst the reference dataset and a series of model outputs by using some synthetic datasets and real-world examples with time series of variables such as wind, current and vertically integrated moisture transport. An alternative setup for spatially varying time-fixed fields is shown in the last examples, in which the spatial average of surface wind in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere according to different reanalyses and realizations from ensembles of CMIP5 models are compared. The Sailor diagrams presented here show that it is a tool which helps in identifying errors due to the bias or the orientation of the simulated vector time series or fields. The R implementation of the diagram presented together with this paper allows us also to easily retrieve the individual diagnostics of the different components of the mean squared error and additional diagnostics which can be presented in tabular form.

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Sáenz, Jon / Carreno-Madinabeitia, Sheila / Esnaola, Ganix / et al: The Sailor diagram – A new diagram for the verification of two-dimensional vector data from multiple models. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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