Evaluation of water vapor distribution in general circulation models using satellite observations

B. J. Soden, F. P. Bretherton

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74 Scopus citations


This paper presents a comparison of the water vapor distribution obtained from two general circulation models, the ECMWF model and the NCAR Community Climate Model (CCM), with satellite observations of total precipitable water (TPW) from SSM/I and upper tropospheric relative humidity (UTH) from GOES. Overall, both models are successful in capturing the primary features of the observed water vapor distribution and its seasonal variation. For the ECMWF model, however, a systematic moist bias in TPW is noted over well-known stratocumulus regions in the eastern subtropical oceans. Comparison with radiosonde profiles suggests that this problem is attributable to difficulties in modeling the shallowness of the boundary layer and large vertical water vapor gradients which characterize these regions. In comparison, the CCM is more successful in capturing the low values of TPW in the stratocumulus regions, although it tends to exhibit a dry bias over the eastern half of the subtropical oceans and a corresponding moist bias in the western half. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1187-1210
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue numberD1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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