Extensive observational and numerical investigations have been performed to better characterize cloud properties. However, due to the large variations in cloud spatiotemporal distributions and physical properties, quantitative depictions of clouds in different atmospheric reanalysis datasets are still highly uncertain. A radiance-based evaluation approach is introduced and performed to evaluate the quality of cloud properties from reanalysis datasets. The China Meteorological Administration reanalysis (CRA); the ECMWF fifth-generation reanalysis (ERA5); and the Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Applications, Version 2 (MERRA-2), i.e., those reanalyses providing sufficient cloud information, are considered. To avoid the influence of assumptions and uncertainties on satellite retrieval algorithms, forward radiative transfer simulations are used as a bridge to translate the reanalyses to corresponding radiances that are expected to be observed by satellites. The simulated reflectances and brightness temperatures (BTs) are directly compared with observations from the Advanced Himawari Imager onboard the Himawari-8 satellite in the East Asia region. We find that the simulated reflectances and BTs based on CRA and ERA5 are close to each other. CRA represents the total and midlayer cloud cover better than the other two datasets, and ERA5 depicts deep-convection structures more closely than CRA does. Comparisons of the simulated and observed BT differences suggest that water clouds are generally overestimated in ERA5 and MERRA-2, and MERRA-2 also overestimates the ice clouds over cyclone centers. Overall, clouds from CRA, ERA5, and MERRA-2 show their own advantages in different aspects. The ERA5 reanalysis has the best capability to represent the cloudy atmospheres over East Asia, and the CRA representations are close to those in ERA5.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science