Evaluating the Evolution of ECMWF Precipitation Products Using Observational Data for Iran: From ERA40 to ERA5

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Navid Ghajarnia , Mahdi Akbari, Peyman Saemian , Mohammad Reza Ehsani , Seyed-Mohammad Hosseini-Moghari , Asghar Azizian , Zahra Kalantari , Ali Behrangi , Mohammad Javad Tourian , Björn Klöve , Ali Torabi Haghighi 


ECMWF Reanalysis (ERA), one of the most widely used precipitation products, has evolved over time from ERA-40 to ERA-20CM, ERA-20C, ERA-Interim, and ERA5. Studies evaluating the performance of individual ERA precipitation products cannot adequately assess the evolution in the products. Therefore, we compared the performance of five successive ERA precipitation products using data at daily, monthly, and annual scale (1980-2018) from more than 2100 precipitation gauges in Iran, and applied various statistical and categorical metrics and error decomposition methods. The results indicated that ERA-40 performed worst, followed by ERA-20CM, which showed only minor improvements over ERA-40. ERA-20C considerably outperformed its predecessors, benefiting from assimilation of observational data. Although several previous studies have reported full superiority of ERA5 over ERA-Interim, our results revealed several shortcomings compared with ERA-Interim, in ERA5 precipitation estimates for Iran. Both ERA-Interim and ERA5 performed best overall, with ERA-Interim showing better statistical and categorical skill scores, and ERA5 performing better in estimating extreme precipitations. These results suggest that the accuracy of ERA precipitation products improved from ERA-40 to ERA-Interim, but not consistently from ERA-Interim to ERA5. These findings are useful for model development at global scale and for hydrological applications in Iran.




Education, Engineering, Life Sciences


precipitation estimates, statistical evaluation, error decomposition, multi-scale evaluation, ERA, precipitation analysis


Published: 2021-10-01 10:49

Last Updated: 2021-10-01 17:48


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:
the authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Data Availability (Reason not available):
Data is available if asked from Corresponding author.

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