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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 11 Oct 2018

Research article | 11 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript was accepted for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

On the value of reanalyses prior to 1979 for dynamical studies

Peter Hitchcock Peter Hitchcock
  • Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, École polytechnique, Palaiseau, France

Abstract. Studies of stratosphere-troposphere coupling, particularly those seeking to understand the dynamical processes un-derlying the coupling following extreme events such as major stratospheric warmings, suffer significantly from the relatively small number of such events in the "satellite" era (1979 to present). This limited sampling of a highly variable dynamical system means that composite averages tend to have large uncertainties. Including years during which radiosonde observations of the stratosphere were of sufficiently high quality could substantially extend this record, potentially reducing this sampling uncertainty by up to 20 %. Moreover, many open questions in this field involve aspects of tropospheric dynamics likely to be better constrained by "conventional" (i.e. radiosonde and surface-based) observations.

Based on an inter-comparison of reanalyses, a quantitative case is made that for many purposes the improved sampling obtained by including this period outweighs the reduced precision of the reanalyses in the Northern Hemisphere. Studies of stratosphere-troposphere coupling should therefore consider the use of this period when using reanalysis data, and the community should advocate for continued attention to be focused on this period from centres producing reanalyses.

Peter Hitchcock
Interactive discussion
Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Peter Hitchcock
Peter Hitchcock
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Studies of the dynamics of stratosphere-troposphere coupling benefit from long observational records in order to distinguish common dynamical features from unrelated atmospheric variability. On the basis of a comparison between a range of reanalysis products, this study argues that the period from 1958 to 1979 is of significant value in the Northern Hemisphere for this purpose, despite the lack of global satellite records.
Studies of the dynamics of stratosphere-troposphere coupling benefit from long observational...