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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-316
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-316
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 10 Jul 2019

Research article | 10 Jul 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Evaluation of the ERA5 reanalysis as a potential reference dataset for hydrological modeling over North-America

Mostafa Tarek, François P. Brissette, and Richard Arsenault Mostafa Tarek et al.
  • École de technologie supérieure, 1100 Notre-Dame West, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3C 1K3

Abstract. The European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) has recently released its most advanced reanalysis product, the ERA5 dataset. It was designed and generated with methods giving it multiple advantages over the previous release, the ERA-Interim reanalysis product. Notably, it has a finer spatial resolution, is archived at the hourly time step, uses a more advanced assimilation system and includes more sources of data. This paper aims to evaluate the ERA5 reanalysis as a potential reference dataset for hydrological modelling by considering the ERA5 precipitation and temperatures as proxies for observations in the hydrological modelling process, using two lumped hydrological models over 3138 North-American catchments. This study shows that ERA5-based hydrological modeling performance is equivalent to using observations over most of North-America, with the exception of the Eastern half of the US, where observations lead to consistently better performance. ERA5 temperature and precipitation biases are consistently reduced compared to ERA-Interim and systematically more accurate for hydrological modelling. Differences between ERA5, ERA-Interim and observation datasets are mostly linked to precipitation, as temperature only marginally influences the hydrological simulation outcomes.

Mostafa Tarek et al.
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Mostafa Tarek et al.
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Short summary
The ERA5 reanalysis dataset is characterized by its high spatial (0.25) and temporal (hourly) resolutions, and has therefore a large potential to drive environmental models in regions where the network of stations is deficient. ERA5 performance is evaluated on 3138 North-American catchments. Results indicate that for hydrological modeling, ERA5 precipitation and temperature is just as good as observation all over North-America, with the exception of the eastern half of the US.
The ERA5 reanalysis dataset is characterized by its high spatial (0.25) and temporal (hourly)...
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