Effects of undetected data quality issues on climatological analysis

Climate of the Past | Hunziker et al. [2017]

Abstract

Systematic data quality issues may occur at various stages of the data generation process. They may affect large fractions of observational datasets and remain largely undetected with standard data quality control. This study investigates the effects of such undetected data quality issues on the results of climatological analyses. For this purpose, we quality controlled daily observations of manned weather stations from the Central Andean area with a standard and an enhanced approach. The climate variables analysed are minimum and maximum temperature, and precipitation. About 40‚ÄČ% of the observations are inappropriate for the calculation of monthly temperature means and precipitation sums due to data quality issues. These quality problems undetected with the standard quality control method strongly affect climatological analyses, since they reduce the correlation coefficients of station pairs, deteriorate the performance of data homogenization methods, increase the spread of individual station trends, and significantly bias regional temperature trends. Our findings indicate that undetected data quality issues are included in important and frequently used observational datasets, and hence may affect a high number of climatological studies. It is of utmost importance to apply comprehensive and adequate data quality control approaches on manned weather station records in order to avoid biased results and large uncertainties.

Full text can be found here.

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