Journal of Geodesy

, Volume 88, Issue 5, pp 503–514 | Cite as

Comparisons of atmospheric mass variations derived from ECMWF reanalysis and operational fields, over 2003–2011

  • E. ForootanEmail author
  • O. Didova
  • M. Schumacher
  • J. Kusche
  • B. Elsaka
Short Note


There are two spurious jumps in the atmospheric part of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment-Atmosphere and Ocean De-aliasing level 1B (GRACE-AOD1B) products, which occurred in January-February of the years 2006 and 2010, as a result of the vertical level and horizontal resolution changes in the ECMWFop (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts operational analysis). These jumps cause a systematic error in the estimation of mass changes from GRACE time-variable level 2 products, since GRACE-AOD1B mass variations are removed during the computation of GRACE level 2. In this short note, the potential impact of using an improved set of 6-hourly atmospheric de-aliasing products on the computations of linear trends as well as the amplitude of annual and semi-annual mass changes from GRACE is assessed. These improvements result from 1) employing a modified 3D integration approach (ITG3D), and 2) using long-term consistent atmospheric fields from the ECMWF reanalysis (ERA-Interim). The monthly averages of the new ITG3D-ERA-Interim de-aliasing products are then compared to the atmospheric part of GRACE-AOD1B, covering January 2003 to December 2010. These comparisons include the 33 world largest river basins along with Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets. The results indicate a considerable difference in total atmospheric mass derived from the two products over some of the mentioned regions. We suggest that future GRACE studies consider these through updating uncertainty budgets or by applying corrections to estimated trends and amplitudes/phases.


Atmospheric Mass GRACE ITG3D-ERA-Interim GRACE-AOD1B ECMWF operational ERA-Interim reanalysis Spurious jumps Bias in mass estimations 



The authors thank R. Klees and P. Ditmar for their constructive comments. We further thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful remarks which improved considerably the manuscript. E. Forootan and J. Kusche are grateful for the financial support provided by the German Research Foundation (DFG) under the project BAYES-G. We are grateful for the GRACE-AOD1B products that are provided by the German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ, Potsdam, via the Information System and Data Centre (ISDC, ITG3D-ERA-Interim was downloaded from the website of the Astronomical, Physical, and Mathematical Geodesy (APMG) group, Bonn University ( We are also grateful to the ECMWF ERA-Interim data, downloaded from


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Forootan
    • 1
    Email author
  • O. Didova
    • 2
  • M. Schumacher
    • 1
  • J. Kusche
    • 1
  • B. Elsaka
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Geodesy and GeoinformationBonn UniversityBonnGermany
  2. 2.Faculty Civil Engineering and GeosciencesDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands
  3. 3.National Research Institute of Astronomy and GeophysicsHelwanEgypt

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