An evaluation of the performance of the 20th Century Reanalysis version 3

Slivinski, L. C.; Compo, G. P.; Sardeshmukh, P. D.; Whitaker, J. S.; McColl, C.; Allan, R. J.; Brohan, P.; Yin, X.; Smith, C. A.; Spencer, L. J.; Vose, R. S.; Rohrer, M.; Conroy, R. P.; Schuster, D. C.; Kennedy, J. J.; Ashcroft, L.; Brönnimann, S.; Brunet, M.; Camuffo, D.; Cornes, R.; ... (2020). An evaluation of the performance of the 20th Century Reanalysis version 3. Journal of Climate, 34(4), pp. 1417-1438. American Meteorological Society 10.1175/JCLI-D-20-0505.1

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The performance of a new historical reanalysis, the NOAA-CIRES-DOE 20th Century Reanalysis Version 3 (20CRv3), is evaluated via comparisons with other reanalyses and independent observations. This dataset provides global, 3-hourly estimates of the atmosphere from 1806 to 2015 by assimilating only surface pressure observations and prescribing sea surface temperature, sea ice concentration, and radiative forcings. Comparisons with independent observations, other reanalyses, and satellite products suggest that 20CRv3 can reliably produce atmospheric estimates on scales ranging from weather events to long-term climatic trends. Not only does 20CRv3 recreate a “best estimate” of the weather, including extreme events, it also provides an estimate of its confidence through the use of an ensemble. Surface pressure statistics suggest that these confidence estimates are reliable. Comparisons with independent upper-air observations in the Northern Hemisphere demonstrate that 20CRv3 has skill throughout the 20th century. Upper-air fields from 20CRv3 in the late 20th century and early 21st century correlate well with full-input reanalyses, and the correlation is predicted by the confidence fields from 20CRv3. The skill of analyzed 500hPa geopotential heights from 20CRv3 for 1979-2015 is comparable to that of modern operational 3- to 4-day forecasts. Finally, 20CRv3 performs well on climate timescales. Long time series and multidecadal averages of mass, circulation, and precipitation fields agree well with modern reanalyses and station- and satellite-based products. 20CRv3 is also able to capture trends in tropospheric layer temperatures that correlate well with independent products in the 20th century, placing recent trends in a longer historical context.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Climatology
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography

Graduate School:

Graduate School of Climate Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Rohrer, Marco and Brönnimann, Stefan


900 History > 910 Geography & travel




American Meteorological Society




André Hürzeler

Date Deposited:

22 Jan 2021 16:36

Last Modified:

29 Jul 2021 11:37

Publisher DOI:





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