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Estimating Fluxes on Continental Scales Using Remotely Sensed Data in an Atmospheric–Land Exchange Model

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  • a Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
  • | b Department of Soil Science, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
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Abstract

A simple model of energy exchange between the land surface and the atmospheric boundary layer, driven by input that can be derived primarily through remote sensing, is described and applied over continental scales at a horizontal resolution of 10 km. Surface flux partitioning into sensible and latent heating is guided by time changes in land surface brightness temperatures, which can be measured from a geostationary satellite platform such as the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite. Other important inputs, including vegetation cover and type, can be derived using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index in combination with vegetation and land use information. Previous studies have shown that this model performs well on small spatial scales, in comparison with surface flux measurements acquired during several field experiments. However, because the model requires only a modicum of surface-based measurements and is designed to be computationally efficient, it is particularly well suited for regional- or continental-scale applications. The input data assembly process for regional-scale applications is outlined. Model flux estimates for the central United States are compared with climatological moisture and vegetation patterns, as well as with surface-based flux measurements acquired during the Southern Great Plains (SGP-97) Hydrology Experiment. These comparisons are quite promising.

Corresponding author address: Dr. John R. Mecikalski, CIMSS Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1225 West Dayton St., Madison, WI 53706.

johnm@ssec.wisc.edu

Abstract

A simple model of energy exchange between the land surface and the atmospheric boundary layer, driven by input that can be derived primarily through remote sensing, is described and applied over continental scales at a horizontal resolution of 10 km. Surface flux partitioning into sensible and latent heating is guided by time changes in land surface brightness temperatures, which can be measured from a geostationary satellite platform such as the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite. Other important inputs, including vegetation cover and type, can be derived using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index in combination with vegetation and land use information. Previous studies have shown that this model performs well on small spatial scales, in comparison with surface flux measurements acquired during several field experiments. However, because the model requires only a modicum of surface-based measurements and is designed to be computationally efficient, it is particularly well suited for regional- or continental-scale applications. The input data assembly process for regional-scale applications is outlined. Model flux estimates for the central United States are compared with climatological moisture and vegetation patterns, as well as with surface-based flux measurements acquired during the Southern Great Plains (SGP-97) Hydrology Experiment. These comparisons are quite promising.

Corresponding author address: Dr. John R. Mecikalski, CIMSS Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1225 West Dayton St., Madison, WI 53706.

johnm@ssec.wisc.edu

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