Quantifying random measurement errors in Voluntary Observing Ships' meteorological observations



Estimates of the random measurement error contained in surface meteorological observations from Voluntary Observing Ships (VOS) have been made on a 30° area grid each month for the period 1970 to 2002. Random measurement errors are calculated for all the basic meteorological variables: surface pressure, wind speed, air temperature, humidity and sea-surface temperature. The random errors vary with space and time, the quality assurance applied and the types of instrument used to make the observations. The estimates of random measurement error are compared with estimates of total observational error, which includes uncertainty due both to measurement errors and to observational sampling. In tropical regions the measurement error makes a significant contribution to the total observational error in a single observation, but in higher latitudes the sampling error can be much larger. Copyright © 2005 Royal Meteorological Society