Description of the ERA - CLIM Historical Upper-Air data

Stickler A., Brönnimann S., Jourdain S., Roucaute E., Sterin A., Nikolaev D., Valente M. A., Wartenburger R., Hersbach H., Ramella-Pralungo L., Dee D.
Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 6, 29-48, doi:10.5194/essd-6-29-2014

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Historical, i.e. pre-1957, upper-air data are a valuable source of information on the state of the atmosphere, in some parts of the world dating back to the early 20th century. However, to date, reanalyses have only partially made use of these data, and only of observations made after 1948. Even for the period between 1948 (the starting year of the NCEP/NCAR (National Centers for Environmental Prediction/National Center for Atmospheric Research) reanalysis) and the International Geophysical Year in 1957 (the starting year of the ERA-40 reanalysis), when the global upper-air coverage reached more or less its current status, many observations have not yet been digitised. The Comprehensive Historical Upper-Air Network (CHUAN) already compiled a large collection of pre-1957 upper-air data. In the framework of the European project ERA-CLIM (European Reanalysis of Global Climate Observations), significant amounts of additional upper-air data have been catalogued (> 1.3 million station days), imaged (> 200 000 images) and digitised (> 700 000 station days) in order to prepare a new input data set for upcoming reanalyses. The records cover large parts of the globe, focussing on, so far, less well covered regions such as the tropics, the polar regions and the oceans, and on very early upper-air data from Europe and the US. The total number of digitised/inventoried records is 61/101 for moving upper-air data, i.e. data from ships, etc., and 735/1783 for fixed upper-air stations. Here, we give a detailed description of the resulting data set including the metadata and the quality checking procedures applied. The data will be included in the next version of CHUAN.