Climate Data

Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR)

The CFSR is a third generation reanalysis product. It is a global, high resolution, coupled atmosphere-ocean-land surface-sea ice system designed to provide the best estimate of the state of these coupled domains over this period. The CFSR includes (1) coupling of atmosphere and ocean during the generation of the 6 hour guess field, (2) an interactive sea-ice model, and (3) assimilation of satellite radiances. The CFSR global atmosphere resolution is ~38 km (T382) with 64 levels. The global ocean is 0.25° at the equator, extending to a global 0.5° beyond the tropics, with 40 levels. The global land surface model has 4 soil levels and the global sea ice model has 3 levels. The CFSR atmospheric model contains observed variations in carbon dioxide (CO2), together with changes in aerosols and other trace gases and solar variations. With these variable parameters, the analyzed state will include estimates of changes in the Earth system climate due to these factors. The current CFSR will be extended as an operational, real time product into the future. -from RDA abstract on CFSR

Key Strengths:

  • Superior to previous NCEP reanalyses with respect to: improved model, finer resolution, advanced assimilation schemes, atmosphere-land-ocean-sea ice coupling, assimilates satellite radiances rather than retrievals
  • Accounts for changing CO2 and other trace gasses, aerosols, and solar variations
  • Approaches the horizontal resolution of regional reanalyses like the NARR and Arctic System Reanalysis

Key Limitations:

  • Relatively few evaluations of CFSR have been conducted so the performance is not well-known
  • Ocean-atmosphere interactions are not used directly. Rather the information is used for background information. The actual reanalysis is uncoupled.

Years of Record

1979/01 to 2010/12



Sub-daily | Monthly

Data Time Period Extended?

yes, data set is extended


Spatial Resolution

.5°x.5° & 2.5°x2.5°, 0.266 hPA top

Ocean or Land


Missing Data Flag

spatially complete

Data Assimilation Method

Model Resolution used to create reanlaysis

T382 x 64 levels

Model Vintage (reanalysis)


Input Data

includes satellite radiances; sea ice; precipitation, radiosondes, aircraft, surface, satellite-based wind speed and vectors; other

Earth system components and main variables

Key Figures

Click the thumbnails to view larger sizes



Climatological (1979-2009) relative humidity at 2-meters. [Climate Data Guide; D. Shea]
Annual cycle of relative humidity at 2-meters. The blue line is the annual average. The horizontal black line is the long term average. [Climate Data Guide; D. Shea]

Cite this page

National Center for Atmospheric Research Staff (Eds). Last modified 24 Jul 2015. "The Climate Data Guide: Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR)." Retrieved from

Acknowledgement of any material taken from this page is appreciated. On behalf of experts who have contributed data, advice, and/or figures, please cite their work as well.