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Mesoscale Simulation of Rapid Soil Drying and Its Implications for Predicting Daytime Temperature

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
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Abstract

Rapid soil-surface drying, which is called “decoupling,” accompanied by an increase in near-surface air temperature and sensible heat flux, is typically confined to the top 1–2 cm of the soil, while the deeper layers remain relatively moist. Because decoupling depends also on a precise knowledge of fractional vegetation cover, soil properties, and soil water content, an accurate knowledge of these parameters is essential for making good predictions of temperature and humidity. Accordingly, some simulations centered on the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program Cloud and Radiation Test Bed Southern Great Plains site in Kansas and Oklahoma using a high-resolution substrate layer (Simulator for Hydrology and Energy Exchange at the Land Surface), the Fifth-Generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model, and derived and default values for soil water content and fractional vegetation cover are presented. In so doing, the following points are made: 1) decoupling occurs only within certain threshold ranges of soil water content that are closely related to the soil type and 2) a knowledge of fractional vegetation cover derived from concurrent observations is necessary for capturing the spatial variation in rapid soil drying in forecast models.

* Current affiliation: Department of Geography, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.

Corresponding author address: Joseph A. Santanello Jr., Dept. of Geography, Boston University, 442 Stone Science Bldg., Boston, MA 02215.

Email: sntnello@crsa.bu.edu

Abstract

Rapid soil-surface drying, which is called “decoupling,” accompanied by an increase in near-surface air temperature and sensible heat flux, is typically confined to the top 1–2 cm of the soil, while the deeper layers remain relatively moist. Because decoupling depends also on a precise knowledge of fractional vegetation cover, soil properties, and soil water content, an accurate knowledge of these parameters is essential for making good predictions of temperature and humidity. Accordingly, some simulations centered on the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program Cloud and Radiation Test Bed Southern Great Plains site in Kansas and Oklahoma using a high-resolution substrate layer (Simulator for Hydrology and Energy Exchange at the Land Surface), the Fifth-Generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model, and derived and default values for soil water content and fractional vegetation cover are presented. In so doing, the following points are made: 1) decoupling occurs only within certain threshold ranges of soil water content that are closely related to the soil type and 2) a knowledge of fractional vegetation cover derived from concurrent observations is necessary for capturing the spatial variation in rapid soil drying in forecast models.

* Current affiliation: Department of Geography, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.

Corresponding author address: Joseph A. Santanello Jr., Dept. of Geography, Boston University, 442 Stone Science Bldg., Boston, MA 02215.

Email: sntnello@crsa.bu.edu

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