Validation of ERA5-Land temperature and relative humidity on four Peruvian glaciers using on-glacier observations

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Weather and climate conditions drive the evolution of tropical glaciers which play an important role as water reservoirs for Peruvian inhabitants in the arid coast and semi-arid Andean region. The scarcity of long-term high-quality observations over Peruvian glaciers has motivated the extensive use of reanalysis data to describe the climatic evolution of these glaciers. However, the representativeness and uncertainties of these reanalysis products over these glaciers are still poorly constrained. This study evaluates the ability of the ERA5-Land reanalysis (ERA5L) to reproduce hourly and monthly 2 m air temperature and relative humidity (T2m and Rh2m, respectively) over several Peruvian glaciers. We compared the ERA5L with data from four on-glacier automatic weather stations (AWS), whose hourly time series were completed with nearby stations, for the period January 2017 to December 2019. Results indicates a better performance of the reanalysis for T2m (r >0.80) than for Rh2m (∼0.4< r <∼0.6) in all four glaciers. Concerning the observations, both parameters show a daily cycle influenced by the presence of the glacier. This influence is more prominent during the dry months when the so-called glacier damping and cooling effects are stronger. On a monthly time scale, the ERA5L validation for both parameters are better in wet outer tropical sites (RMSE between ±0.2°C for T2m and between 3%–7% for Rh2m) rather than in dry outer tropical sites (RMSE between ±0.2°C for T2m and between 3%–7% for Rh2m). Among all sites considered in the study, the Rh2m bias is the highest in the Cavalca glacier (correlation of 0.81; RMSE 13%, MAE 11% and bias 8.3%) and the lowest in Artesonraju glacier (correlation of 0.96; RMSE 3%; MAE 2.3% and bias — 0.8%). Based on certain considerations outlined in this paper, it is appropriate to use ERA5L to characterize T2m and Rh2m conditions on Peruvian glaciers, particularly in the wet outer tropics.
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