The Effect of Forest on Mesoscale Rainfall: An Example from HAPEX-MOBILHY

E. M. Blyth Institute of Hydrology, Wallingford, Oxon, United Kingdom

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A. J. Dolman Institute of Hydrology, Wallingford, Oxon, United Kingdom

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J. Noilhan Météo France, CNRM, Toulouse, France

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Abstract

A meso-β-scale model is used to model a frontal intrusion in southwest France during HAPEX-MOBILHY. The skill of the model to reproduce the observed variation in temperature, humidity, and wind speed over the domain is reasonable within the limitations of the model parameterizations and initialization procedure, although there were errors in the timing and positioning of the front. A stable boundary layer was both observed and modeled over the forested area. The associated negative sensible heat flux provided the energy to sustain evaporation from the wet forest canopy under conditions of low radiation. A large wind shear over the stably stratified boundary layer provided the required turbulent kinetic energy to maintain the downward transport of sensible heat. Sensitivity experiments showed that local rainfall with a full forest cover changed from 2.9 to 3.8 mm, which represents a 30% increase when compared with a bare-soil domain. Half of this increase is from positive feedback of the intercepted water that reevaporates. The high roughness length of the forest, with its associated physical and dynamical effects, accounts for the rest of the increase in rainfall and for the accompanying increase in soil moisture.

Abstract

A meso-β-scale model is used to model a frontal intrusion in southwest France during HAPEX-MOBILHY. The skill of the model to reproduce the observed variation in temperature, humidity, and wind speed over the domain is reasonable within the limitations of the model parameterizations and initialization procedure, although there were errors in the timing and positioning of the front. A stable boundary layer was both observed and modeled over the forested area. The associated negative sensible heat flux provided the energy to sustain evaporation from the wet forest canopy under conditions of low radiation. A large wind shear over the stably stratified boundary layer provided the required turbulent kinetic energy to maintain the downward transport of sensible heat. Sensitivity experiments showed that local rainfall with a full forest cover changed from 2.9 to 3.8 mm, which represents a 30% increase when compared with a bare-soil domain. Half of this increase is from positive feedback of the intercepted water that reevaporates. The high roughness length of the forest, with its associated physical and dynamical effects, accounts for the rest of the increase in rainfall and for the accompanying increase in soil moisture.

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