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Land–Atmosphere Coupling Strength in the Global Forecast System

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  • 1 NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Climate Prediction Center, Camp Springs, Maryland, and Wyle Information Systems, McLean, Virginia
  • | 2 Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, Calverton, Maryland
  • | 3 NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Environmental Modeling Center, Camp Springs, and I. M. Systems Group, Inc., Rockville, Maryland
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Abstract

The operational coupled land–atmosphere forecast model from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) is evaluated for the strength and characteristics of its coupling in the water cycle between land and atmosphere. Following the protocols of the Global Land–Atmosphere Coupling Experiment (GLACE) it is found that the Global Forecast System (GFS) atmospheric model coupled to the Noah land surface model exhibits extraordinarily weak land–atmosphere coupling, much as its predecessor, the GFS–Oregon State University (OSU) coupled system. The coupling strength is evaluated by the ability of subsurface soil wetness to affect locally the time series of precipitation. The surface fluxes in Noah are also found to be rather insensitive to subsurface soil wetness. Comparison to another atmospheric model coupled to Noah as well as a different land surface model show that Noah is responsible for some of the lack of sensitivity, primarily because its thick (10 cm) surface layer dominates the variability in surface latent heat fluxes. Noah is found to be as responsive as other land surface models to surface soil wetness and temperature variations, suggesting the design of the GLACE sensitivity experiment (based only on subsurface soil wetness) handicapped the Noah model. Additional experiments, in which the parameterization of evapotranspiration is altered, as well as experiments where surface soil wetness is also constrained, isolate the GFS atmospheric model as the principal source of the weak sensitivity of precipitation to land surface states.

Corresponding author address: Paul A. Dirmeyer, Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, 4041 Powder Mill Rd., Suite 302, Calverton, MD 20705-3106. Email: dirmeyer@cola.iges.org

Abstract

The operational coupled land–atmosphere forecast model from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) is evaluated for the strength and characteristics of its coupling in the water cycle between land and atmosphere. Following the protocols of the Global Land–Atmosphere Coupling Experiment (GLACE) it is found that the Global Forecast System (GFS) atmospheric model coupled to the Noah land surface model exhibits extraordinarily weak land–atmosphere coupling, much as its predecessor, the GFS–Oregon State University (OSU) coupled system. The coupling strength is evaluated by the ability of subsurface soil wetness to affect locally the time series of precipitation. The surface fluxes in Noah are also found to be rather insensitive to subsurface soil wetness. Comparison to another atmospheric model coupled to Noah as well as a different land surface model show that Noah is responsible for some of the lack of sensitivity, primarily because its thick (10 cm) surface layer dominates the variability in surface latent heat fluxes. Noah is found to be as responsive as other land surface models to surface soil wetness and temperature variations, suggesting the design of the GLACE sensitivity experiment (based only on subsurface soil wetness) handicapped the Noah model. Additional experiments, in which the parameterization of evapotranspiration is altered, as well as experiments where surface soil wetness is also constrained, isolate the GFS atmospheric model as the principal source of the weak sensitivity of precipitation to land surface states.

Corresponding author address: Paul A. Dirmeyer, Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, 4041 Powder Mill Rd., Suite 302, Calverton, MD 20705-3106. Email: dirmeyer@cola.iges.org

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