A global radiosonde and tracked balloon archive on 16 pressure levels (GRASP) back to 1905 – Part 1: Merging and interpolation to 00:00 and 12:00 GMT

Pralungo, Ramella L.; Haimberger, L.; Stickler, Alexander; Brönnimann, Stefan (2014). A global radiosonde and tracked balloon archive on 16 pressure levels (GRASP) back to 1905 – Part 1: Merging and interpolation to 00:00 and 12:00 GMT. Earth System Science Data, 6(1), pp. 185-200. Copernicus Publications 10.5194/essd-6-185-2014

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Many observed time series of the global radiosonde or PILOT networks exist as fragments distributed over different archives. Identifying and merging these fragments can enhance their value for studies on the three-dimensional spatial structure of climate change.

The Comprehensive Historical Upper-Air Network (CHUAN version 1.7), which was substantially extended in 2013, and the Integrated Global Radiosonde Archive (IGRA) are the most important collections of upper-air measurements taken before 1958. CHUAN (tracked) balloon data start in 1900, with higher numbers from the late 1920s onward, whereas IGRA data start in 1937. However, a substantial fraction of those measurements have not been taken at synoptic times (preferably 00:00 or 12:00 GMT) and on altitude levels instead of standard pressure levels. To make them comparable with more recent data, the records have been brought to synoptic times and standard pressure levels using state-of-the-art interpolation techniques, employing geopotential information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 20th Century Reanalysis (NOAA 20CR). From 1958 onward the European Re-Analysis archives (ERA-40 and ERA-Interim) available at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) are the main data sources. These are easier to use, but pilot data still have to be interpolated to standard pressure levels. Fractions of the same records distributed over different archives have been merged, if necessary, taking care that the data remain traceable back to their original sources. If possible, station IDs assigned by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have been allocated to the station records. For some records which have never been identified by a WMO ID, a local ID above 100 000 has been assigned. The merged data set contains 37 wind records longer than 70 years and 139 temperature records longer than 60 years. It can be seen as a useful basis for further data processing steps, most notably homogenization and gridding, after which it should be a valuable resource for climatological studies. Homogeneity adjustments for wind using the NOAA-20CR as a reference are described in Ramella Pralungo and Haimberger (2014). Reliable homogeneity adjustments for temperature beyond 1958 using a surface-data-only reanalysis such as NOAA-20CR as a reference have yet to be created. All the archives and metadata files are available in ASCII and netCDF format in the PANGAEA archive

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Climatology
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Stickler, Alexander Nicolas and Brönnimann, Stefan


900 History > 910 Geography & travel




Copernicus Publications




Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

07 Oct 2014 14:44

Last Modified:

14 Sep 2015 10:40

Publisher DOI:






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