Studying Weather and Climate Using Atmospheric Retrospective Analyses

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Michael G Bosilovich, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Global Modeling and Assimilation Office, Greenbelt, MD, United States
Over the last 35 years, tremendous amounts of satellite observations of the Earth’s atmosphere have been collected along side the much longer and diverse record of in situ measurements. The satellite data records have disparate qualities, structure and uncertainty which make comparing weather from the 80s and 2000s a challenging prospect. Likewise, in-situ data records lack complete coverage of the earth in both space and time. Atmospheric reanalyses use the observations with numerical models and data assimilation to produce continuous and consistent weather data records for periods longer than decades. The result is a simplified data format with a relatively straightforward learning curve that includes many more variables available (through the modeling component of the system), but driven by a full suite of observational data.

The simplified data format allows introduction into weather and climate data analysis. Some examples are provided from undergraduate meteorology program internship projects. We will present the students progression through the projects from their initial understanding and competencies to some final results and the skills learned along the way. Reanalyses are a leading research tool in weather and climate, but can also provide an introductory experience as well, allowing students to develop an understanding of the physical system while learning basic programming and analysis skills.