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Guido Cioni
Cathy Hohenegger


A determination of the sign and magnitude of the soil moisture–precipitation feedback relies either on observations, where synoptic variability is difficult to isolate, or on model simulations, which suffer from biases mainly related to poorly resolved convection. In this study, a large-eddy simulation model with a resolution of 250 m is coupled to a land surface model and several idealized experiments mimicking the full diurnal cycle of convection are performed, starting from different spatially homogeneous soil moisture conditions. The goal is to determine under which conditions drier soils may produce more precipitation than wetter ones. The methodology of previous conceptual studies that have quantified the likelihood of convection to be triggered over wet or dry soils is followed but includes the production of precipitation. Although convection can be triggered earlier over dry soils than over wet soils under certain atmospheric conditions, total precipitation is found to always decrease over dry soils. By splitting the total precipitation into its magnitude and duration component, it is found that the magnitude strongly correlates with surface latent heat flux, hence implying a wet soil advantage. Because of this strong scaling, changes in precipitation duration caused by differences in convection triggering are not able to overcompensate for the lack of evaporation over dry soils. These results are further validated using two additional atmospheric soundings and a series of perturbed experiments that consider cloud radiative effects, as well as the effect of large-scale forcing, winds, and plants on the soil moisture–precipitation coupling.

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