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Keywords:

  • land surface heat fluxes;
  • surface radiation;
  • evapotranspiration

[1] A global intercomparison of 12 monthly mean land surface heat flux products for the period 1993–1995 is presented. The intercomparison includes some of the first emerging global satellite-based products (developed at Paris Observatory, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, University of California Berkeley, University of Maryland, and Princeton University) and examples of fluxes produced by reanalyses (ERA-Interim, MERRA, NCEP-DOE) and off-line land surface models (GSWP-2, GLDAS CLM/Mosaic/Noah). An intercomparison of the global latent heat flux (Qle) annual means shows a spread of ∼20 W m−2 (all-product global average of ∼45 W m−2). A similar spread is observed for the sensible (Qh) and net radiative (Rn) fluxes. In general, the products correlate well with each other, helped by the large seasonal variability and common forcing data for some of the products. Expected spatial distributions related to the major climatic regimes and geographical features are reproduced by all products. Nevertheless, large Qle and Qh absolute differences are also observed. The fluxes were spatially averaged for 10 vegetation classes. The larger Qle differences were observed for the rain forest but, when normalized by mean fluxes, the differences were comparable to other classes. In general, the correlations between Qle and Rn were higher for the satellite-based products compared with the reanalyses and off-line models. The fluxes were also averaged for 10 selected basins. The seasonality was generally well captured by all products, but large differences in the flux partitioning were observed for some products and basins.