Evaluation of the atmospheric water vapor content in a regional climate model using ground-based GPS measurements



[1] Ground-based GPS measurements can provide independent data for the assessment of climate models. We use the atmospheric integrated water vapor (IWV) obtained from GPS measurements at 99 European sites to evaluate the regional Rossby Centre Atmospheric climate model (RCA) driven at the boundaries by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) reanalysis data (ERA Interim). The GPS data were compared to the RCA simulation and the ERA Interim data. The comparison was first made using the monthly mean values. Averaged over the domain and the 14 years covered by the GPS data, IWV differences of about 0.47 kg/m2 and 0.39 kg/m2 are obtained for RCA-GPS and ECMWF-GPS, respectively. The RCA-GPS standard deviation is 0.98 kg/m2 whereas it is 0.35 kg/m2 for the ECMWF-GPS comparison. The IWV differences for RCA are positively correlated to the differences for ECMWF. However, this is not the case for two sites in Italy where a wet bias is seen for ECMWF, while a dry bias is seen for RCA, the latter being consistent with a cold temperature bias found for RCA in that region by other authors. Comparisons of the estimated diurnal cycle and the spatial structure function of the IWV were made between the GPS data and the RCA simulation. The RCA captures the geographical variation of the diurnal peak in the summer. Averaged over all sites, a peak at 17 local solar time is obtained from the GPS data while it appears later, at 18, in the RCA simulation. The spatial variation of the IWV obtained for an RCA run with a resolution of 11 km gives a better agreement with the GPS results than does the spatial variation from a 50 km resolution run.