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Atmosphere–Land Surface Interactions over the Southern Great Plains: Characterization from Pentad Analysis of DOE ARM Field Observations and NARR

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland
  • 2 Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, and Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland
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Abstract

The Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program (ARM) Southern Great Plains (SGP) site data are analyzed to provide insight into atmosphere–land surface interactions generating summertime precipitation variability. Pentad-averaged (5 days) data are analyzed; the average is long enough to suppress synoptic variability but sufficiently short to resolve atmosphere–land surface interactions. Intercomparison with the precipitation-assimilating North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) helps with in-depth investigation of the processes. The analysis seeks to ascertain the process sequence, especially the role of evapotranspiration and soil-moisture–radiation feedbacks in the generation of regional precipitation variability at this temporal scale.

Transported moisture dominates over evapotranspiration in precipitation variability over the region, from both magnitude of the contribution to regional water balance and its apparent temporal lead at pentad resolution. Antecedent and contemporaneous evapotranspiration are found to be negatively correlated with precipitation, albeit statistically insignificant; only lagging correlations are positive, peaking at 2-pentad lag following precipitation, substantiating the authors’ characterization of the water balance over SGP, and extending the authors’ previous findings on the dominance of moisture flux convergence in generating precipitation variability at monthly scales.

Precipitation episodes are linked with net negative surface radiation anomalies (i.e., with an energy-deprived land surface state that cannot fuel evapotranspiration), ruling out radiatively driven positive feedback on precipitation. Although the net longwave signal is positive because of a colder land surface (less upward terrestrial radiation), it is more than offset by the cloudiness-related reduction in downward shortwave radiation. Thus, ARM (NARR) data do not support the soil-moisture–precipitation feedback hypothesis over the SGP at pentad time scales; however, it may work at subpentad resolution and over other regions.

Corresponding author address: Alfredo Ruiz-Barradas, 3405 Computer and Space Sciences Building, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, MD 20742-2425. E-mail: alfredo@atmos.umd.edu

Abstract

The Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program (ARM) Southern Great Plains (SGP) site data are analyzed to provide insight into atmosphere–land surface interactions generating summertime precipitation variability. Pentad-averaged (5 days) data are analyzed; the average is long enough to suppress synoptic variability but sufficiently short to resolve atmosphere–land surface interactions. Intercomparison with the precipitation-assimilating North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) helps with in-depth investigation of the processes. The analysis seeks to ascertain the process sequence, especially the role of evapotranspiration and soil-moisture–radiation feedbacks in the generation of regional precipitation variability at this temporal scale.

Transported moisture dominates over evapotranspiration in precipitation variability over the region, from both magnitude of the contribution to regional water balance and its apparent temporal lead at pentad resolution. Antecedent and contemporaneous evapotranspiration are found to be negatively correlated with precipitation, albeit statistically insignificant; only lagging correlations are positive, peaking at 2-pentad lag following precipitation, substantiating the authors’ characterization of the water balance over SGP, and extending the authors’ previous findings on the dominance of moisture flux convergence in generating precipitation variability at monthly scales.

Precipitation episodes are linked with net negative surface radiation anomalies (i.e., with an energy-deprived land surface state that cannot fuel evapotranspiration), ruling out radiatively driven positive feedback on precipitation. Although the net longwave signal is positive because of a colder land surface (less upward terrestrial radiation), it is more than offset by the cloudiness-related reduction in downward shortwave radiation. Thus, ARM (NARR) data do not support the soil-moisture–precipitation feedback hypothesis over the SGP at pentad time scales; however, it may work at subpentad resolution and over other regions.

Corresponding author address: Alfredo Ruiz-Barradas, 3405 Computer and Space Sciences Building, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, MD 20742-2425. E-mail: alfredo@atmos.umd.edu
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