Multimodel analysis of energy and water fluxes: Intercomparisons between operational analyses, a land surface model, and remote sensing

Raghuveer K. Vinukollu, Justin Sheffield, Eric F. Wood, Michael G. Bosilovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Using data from seven global model operational analyses (OA), one land surface model, and various remote sensing retrievals, the energy and water fluxes over global land areas are intercompared for 2003/04. Remote sensing estimates of evapotranspiration (ET) are obtained from three process-based models that use input forcings from multisensor satellites. An ensemble mean (linear average) of the seven operational (mean-OA) models is used primarily to intercompare the fluxes with comparisons performed at both global and basin scales. At the global scale, it is found that all components of the energy budget represented by the ensemble mean of the OA models have a significant bias. Net radiation estimates had a positive bias (global mean) of 234 MJ m -2 yr -1 (7.4 W m -2) as compared to the remote sensing estimates, with the latent and sensible heat fluxes biased by 470 MJ m -2 yr -1 (13.3 W m -2) and 2367 MJ m -2 yr -1 (11.7 W m -2), respectively. The bias in the latent heat flux is affected by the bias in the net radiation, which is primarily due to the biases in the incoming shortwave and outgoing longwave radiation and to the nudging process of the operational models. The OA models also suffer from improper partitioning of the surface heat fluxes. Comparison of precipitation (P) analyses from the various OA models, gauge analysis, and remote sensing retrievals showed better agreement than the energy fluxes. Basin-scale comparisons were consistent with the global-scale results, with the results for the Amazon in particular showing disparities betweenOAand remote sensing estimates of energy fluxes. The biases in the fluxes are attributable to a combination of errors in the forcing from the OA atmospheric models and the flux calculation methods in their land surface schemes. The atmospheric forcing errors aremainly attributable to high shortwave radiation likely due to the underestimation of clouds, but also precipitation errors, especially in water-limited regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-26
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Energy budget/balance
  • Evapotranspiration
  • Fluxes
  • Land surface model
  • Numerical weather prediction/forecasting
  • Remote sensing


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