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https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-76
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-76
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 14 Apr 2020

Submitted as: research article | 14 Apr 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

The ERA5-Land Soil-Temperature Bias in Permafrost Regions

Bin Cao1, Stephan Gruber2, Donghai Zheng1, and Xin Li1,3 Bin Cao et al.
  • 1National Tibetan Plateau Data Center, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 2Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
  • 3CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Abstract. ERA5-Land (ERA5L) is a reanalysis product derived by running the land component of ERA5 at increased resolution. This study evaluates its soil temperature in permafrost regions based on observations and published permafrost products. Soil in ERA5L is predicted too warm in northern Canada and Alaska, but too cold in mid-low latitudes, leading to an average bias of −0.08 °C. The warm bias of ERA5L soil is stronger in winter than in other seasons. Diagnosed from its soil temperature, ERA5L overestimates active-layer thickness and underestimates near-surface (< 1.89 m) permafrost area. This is, in part, due to the shallow soil column and coarse vertical discretization in the ERA5 land-surface model and to warmer simulated soil. The soil-temperature bias in permafrost regions correlates with the bias in air temperature and with maximum snow height. Review of the ERA5L snow scheme and a simulation example point to low-bias in ERA5L snow density as a possible cause for warm-biased soil. The apparent disagreement of station-based and spatial evaluation of ERA5L highlights challenges in our ability to test permafrost simulation models. While global reanalyses are important drivers for permafrost simulation, ERA5L soil data is not well suited for directly informing permafrost research decision making. To alleviate this, future soil-temperature products in reanalyses would require permafrost-specific alterations to the land-surface models used.

Bin Cao et al.

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Short summary
This study reports that ERA5-Land (ERA5L) soil-temperature bias in permafrost regions correlates with the bias in air temperature and with maximum snow height.While global reanalyses are important drivers for permafrost study, ERA5L soil data is not well suited for directly informing permafrost researchdecision making due to its warm bias in winter. To alleviate this, future soil-temperature products in reanalyses would require permafrost-specific alterations to the land-surface models used.
This study reports that ERA5-Land (ERA5L) soil-temperature bias in permafrost regions correlates...
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