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The definition and derivation of a 5-yr, 0.125 degrees, 3-hourly atmospheric forcing dataset that is appropriate for use in a Land Data Assimilation System operating across South America is described. Because surface observations are limited in this region, many of the variables were taken from the South American Regional Reanalysis; however, remotely sensed data were merged with surface observations to calculate the precipitation and downward shortwave radiation fields. The quality of this dataset was evaluated against the surface observations available. There are regional differences in the biases for all variables in the dataset, with volumetric biases in precipitation of the order 0-1 mm day(-1) and RMSE of 5-15 mm day(-1), biases in surface solar radiation of the order 10 W m(-2) and RMSE of 20 W m(-2), positive biases in temperature typically between 0 and 4 K depending on the region, and positive biases in specific humidity around 2-3 g kg(-1) in tropical regions and negative biases around 1-2 g kg(-1) farther south

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