Continuous satellite-derived cloud records now extend over three decades, and are increasingly used for climate applications. Certain applications, such as trend detection, require a clear understanding of uncertainty as it relates to establishing statistical significance. The use of reanalysis products as sources of ancillary data could be construed as one such source of uncertainty, as there has been discussion regarding the suitability of reanalysis products for trend detection. Here we use three reanalysis products: Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR), Modern Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) and European Center for Medium range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) ERA-Interim (ERA-I) as sources of ancillary data for the Pathfinder Atmospheres Extended/Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (PATMOS-x/AVHRR) Satellite Cloud Climate Data Record (CDR), and perform inter-comparisons to determine how sensitive the climatology is to choice of ancillary data source. We find differences among reanalysis fields required for PATMOS-x processing, which translate to small but not insignificant differences in retrievals of cloud fraction, cloud top height and cloud optical depth. The retrieval variability due to choice of reanalysis product is on the order of one third the size of the retrieval uncertainty, making it a potentially significant factor in trend detection. Cloud fraction trends were impacted the most by choice of reanalysis while cloud optical depth trends were impacted the least. Metrics used to determine the skill of the reanalysis products for use as ancillary data found no clear best choice for use in PATMOS-x. We conclude use of reanalysis products as ancillary data in the PATMOS-x/AVHRR Cloud CDR do not preclude its use for trend detection, but for that application uncertainty in reanalysis fields should be better represented in the PATMOS-x retrieval uncertainty.
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