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Jinwoong Yoo, Joseph A. Santanello Jr., Marshall Shepherd, Sujay Kumar, Patricia Lawston, and Andrew M. Thomas

Abstract

An investigation of Tropical Cyclone (TC) Kelvin in February 2018 over northeast Australia was conducted to understand the mechanisms of the brown ocean effect (BOE) and to develop a comprehensive analysis framework for landfalling TCs in the process. NASA’s Land Information System (LIS) coupled to the NASA Unified WRF (NU-WRF) system was employed as the numerical model framework for 12 land/soil moisture perturbation experiments. Impacts of soil moisture and surface enthalpy flux conditions on TC Kelvin were investigated by closely evaluating simulated track and intensity, midlevel atmospheric thermodynamic properties, vertical wind shear, total precipitable water (TPW), and surface moisture flux. The results suggest that there were recognized differentiations among the sensitivity simulations as a result of land surface (e.g., soil moisture and texture) conditions. However, the intensification of TC Kelvin over land was more strongly related to atmospheric moisture advection and the diurnal cycle of solar radiation (i.e., radiative cooling) than to overall soil moisture conditions or surface fluxes. The analysis framework employed here for TC Kelvin can serve as a foundation to specifically quantify the factors governing the BOE. It also demonstrates that the BOE is not a binary influence (i.e., all or nothing), but instead operates in a continuum from largely to minimally influential such that it could be utilized to help improve prediction of inland effects for all landfalling TCs.

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Joseph A. Santanello Jr., Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Sujay V. Kumar, Charles Alonge, and Wei-Kuo Tao

Abstract

Land–atmosphere interactions play a critical role in determining the diurnal evolution of both planetary boundary layer (PBL) and land surface temperature and moisture states. The degree of coupling between the land surface and PBL in numerical weather prediction and climate models remains largely unexplored and undiagnosed because of the complex interactions and feedbacks present across a range of scales. Furthermore, uncoupled systems or experiments [e.g., the Project for the Intercomparison of Land-Surface Parameterization Schemes (PILPS)] may lead to inaccurate water and energy cycle process understanding by neglecting feedback processes such as PBL-top entrainment. In this study, a framework for diagnosing local land–atmosphere coupling is presented using a coupled mesoscale model with a suite of PBL and land surface model (LSM) options along with observations during field experiments in the U.S. Southern Great Plains. Specifically, the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) has been coupled to the Land Information System (LIS), which provides a flexible and high-resolution representation and initialization of land surface physics and states. Within this framework, the coupling established by each pairing of the available PBL schemes in WRF with the LSMs in LIS is evaluated in terms of the diurnal temperature and humidity evolution in the mixed layer. The coevolution of these variables and the convective PBL are sensitive to and, in fact, integrative of the dominant processes that govern the PBL budget, which are synthesized through the use of mixing diagrams. Results show how the sensitivity of land–atmosphere interactions to the specific choice of PBL scheme and LSM varies across surface moisture regimes and can be quantified and evaluated against observations. As such, this methodology provides a potential pathway to study factors controlling local land–atmosphere coupling (LoCo) using the LIS–WRF system, which will serve as a test bed for future experiments to evaluate coupling diagnostics within the community.

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Joseph A. Santanello Jr., Sujay V. Kumar, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, and Patricia M. Lawston

Abstract

Advances in satellite monitoring of the terrestrial water cycle have led to a concerted effort to assimilate soil moisture observations from various platforms into offline land surface models (LSMs). One principal but still open question is that of the ability of land data assimilation (LDA) to improve LSM initial conditions for coupled short-term weather prediction. In this study, the impact of assimilating Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS (AMSR-E) soil moisture retrievals on coupled WRF Model forecasts is examined during the summers of dry (2006) and wet (2007) surface conditions in the southern Great Plains. LDA is carried out using NASA’s Land Information System (LIS) and the Noah LSM through an ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) approach. The impacts of LDA on the 1) soil moisture and soil temperature initial conditions for WRF, 2) land–atmosphere coupling characteristics, and 3) ambient weather of the coupled LIS–WRF simulations are then assessed. Results show that impacts of soil moisture LDA during the spinup can significantly modify LSM states and fluxes, depending on regime and season. Results also indicate that the use of seasonal cumulative distribution functions (CDFs) is more advantageous compared to the traditional annual CDF bias correction strategies. LDA performs consistently regardless of atmospheric forcing applied, with greater improvements seen when using coarser, global forcing products. Downstream impacts on coupled simulations vary according to the strength of the LDA impact at the initialization, where significant modifications to the soil moisture flux–PBL–ambient weather process chain are observed. Overall, this study demonstrates potential for future, higher-resolution soil moisture assimilation applications in weather and climate research.

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Joseph A. Santanello Jr., Christa D. Peters-Lidard, and Sujay V. Kumar

Abstract

The inherent coupled nature of earth’s energy and water cycles places significant importance on the proper representation and diagnosis of land–atmosphere (LA) interactions in hydrometeorological prediction models. However, the precise nature of the soil moisture–precipitation relationship at the local scale is largely determined by a series of nonlinear processes and feedbacks that are difficult to quantify. To quantify the strength of the local LA coupling (LoCo), this process chain must be considered both in full and as individual components through their relationships and sensitivities. To address this, recent modeling and diagnostic studies have been extended to 1) quantify the processes governing LoCo utilizing the thermodynamic properties of mixing diagrams, and 2) diagnose the sensitivity of coupled systems, including clouds and moist processes, to perturbations in soil moisture. This work employs NASA’s Land Information System (LIS) coupled to the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) mesoscale model and simulations performed over the U.S. Southern Great Plains. The behavior of different planetary boundary layers (PBL) and land surface scheme couplings in LIS–WRF are examined in the context of the evolution of thermodynamic quantities that link the surface soil moisture condition to the PBL regime, clouds, and precipitation. Specifically, the tendency toward saturation in the PBL is quantified by the lifting condensation level (LCL) deficit and addressed as a function of time and space. The sensitivity of the LCL deficit to the soil moisture condition is indicative of the strength of LoCo, where both positive and negative feedbacks can be identified. Overall, this methodology can be applied to any model or observations and is a crucial step toward improved evaluation and quantification of LoCo within models, particularly given the advent of next-generation satellite measurements of PBL and land surface properties along with advances in data assimilation schemes.

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Sujay V. Kumar, Kenneth W. Harrison, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Joseph A. Santanello Jr., and Dalia Kirschbaum

Abstract

Observing system simulation experiments (OSSEs) are often conducted to evaluate the worth of existing data and data yet to be collected from proposed new missions. As missions increasingly require a broader “Earth systems” focus, it is important that the OSSEs capture the potential benefits of the observations on end-use applications. Toward this end, the results from the OSSEs must also be evaluated with a suite of metrics that capture the value, uncertainty, and information content of the observations while factoring in both science and societal impacts. This article presents a soil moisture OSSE that employs simulated L-band measurements and assesses its utility toward improving drought and flood risk estimates using the NASA Land Information System (LIS). A decision-theory-based analysis is conducted to assess the economic utility of the observations toward improving these applications. The results suggest that the improvements in surface soil moisture, root-zone soil moisture, and total runoff fields obtained through the assimilation of L-band measurements are effective in providing improvements in the drought and flood risk assessments as well. The decision-theory analysis not only demonstrates the economic utility of observations but also shows that the use of probabilistic information from the model simulations is more beneficial compared to the use of corresponding deterministic estimates. The experiment also demonstrates the value of a comprehensive modeling environment such as LIS for conducting end-to-end OSSEs by linking satellite observations, physical models, data assimilation algorithms, and end-use application models in a single integrated framework.

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Joseph A. Santanello Jr., Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Aaron Kennedy, and Sujay V. Kumar

Abstract

Land–atmosphere (L–A) interactions play a critical role in determining the diurnal evolution of land surface and planetary boundary layer (PBL) temperature and moisture states and fluxes. In turn, these interactions regulate the strength of the connection between surface moisture and precipitation in a coupled system. To address model deficiencies, recent studies have focused on development of diagnostics to quantify the strength and accuracy of the land–PBL coupling at the process level. In this paper, a diagnosis of the nature and impacts of local land–atmosphere coupling (LoCo) during dry and wet extreme conditions is presented using a combination of models and observations during the summers of 2006 and 2007 in the U.S. southern Great Plains. A range of diagnostics exploring the links and feedbacks between soil moisture and precipitation is applied to the dry/wet regimes exhibited in this region, and in the process, a thorough evaluation of nine different land–PBL scheme couplings is conducted under the umbrella of a high-resolution regional modeling test bed. Results show that the sign and magnitude of errors in land surface energy balance components are sensitive to the choice of land surface model, regime type, and running mode. In addition, LoCo diagnostics show that the sensitivity of L–A coupling is stronger toward the land during dry conditions, while the PBL scheme coupling becomes more important during the wet regime. Results also demonstrate how LoCo diagnostics can be applied to any modeling system (e.g., reanalysis products) in the context of their integrated impacts on the process chain connecting the land surface to the PBL and in support of hydrological anomalies.

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Cheng Tao, Yunyan Zhang, Qi Tang, Hsi-Yen Ma, Virendra P. Ghate, Shuaiqi Tang, Shaocheng Xie, and Joseph A. Santanello

Abstract

Using the 9-yr warm-season observations at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Southern Great Plains site, we assess the land–atmosphere (LA) coupling in the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) and two climate models: hindcasts with the Community Atmosphere Model version 5.1 by Cloud-Associated Parameterizations Testbed (CAM5-CAPT) and nudged runs with the Energy Exascale Earth System Model Atmosphere Model version 1 Regionally Refined Model (EAMv1-RRM). We focus on three local convective regimes and diagnose model behaviors using the local coupling metrics. NARR agrees well with observations except a slightly warmer and drier surface with higher downwelling shortwave radiation and lower evaporative fraction. On clear-sky days, it shows warmer and drier early-morning conditions in both models with significant underestimates in surface evaporation by EAMv1-RRM. On the majority of the ARM-observed shallow cumulus days, there is no or little low-level clouds in either model. When captured in models, the simulated shallow cumulus shows much less cloud fraction and lower cloud bases than observed. On the days with late-afternoon deep convection, models tend to present a stable early-morning lower atmosphere more frequently than the observations, suggesting that the deep convection is triggered more often by elevated instabilities. Generally, CAM5-CAPT can reproduce the local LA coupling processes to some extent due to the constrained early-morning conditions and large-scale winds. EAMv1-RRM exhibits large precipitation deficits and warm and dry biases toward mid-to-late summers, which may be an amplification through a positive LA feedback among initial atmosphere and land states, convection triggering and large-scale circulations.

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Ryann A. Wakefield, Jeffrey B. Basara, J. Marshall Shepherd, Noah Brauer, Jason C. Furtado, Joseph A. Santanello Jr., and Roger Edwards

Abstract

Landfalling tropical cyclones (TCs) often decay rapidly due to a decrease in moisture and energy fluxes over land when compared to the ocean surface. Occasionally, however, these cyclones maintain intensity or reintensify over land. Post-landfall maintenance and intensification of TCs over land may be a result of fluxes of moisture and energy derived from anomalously wet soils. These soils act similarly to a warm sea surface, in a phenomenon coined the “brown ocean effect.” Tropical Storm (TS) Bill (2015) made landfall over a region previously moistened by anomalously heavy rainfall and displayed periods of reintensification and maintenance over land. This study evaluates the role of the brown ocean effect on the observed maintenance and intensification of TS Bill using a combination of existing and novel approaches, including the evaluation of precursor conditions at varying temporal scales and making use of composite backward trajectories. Comparisons were made to landfalling TCs with similar paths that did not undergo TC maintenance and/or intensification (TCMI) as well as to TS Erin (2007), a known TCMI case. We show that the antecedent environment prior to TS Bill was similar to other known TCMI cases, but drastically different from the non-TCMI cases analyzed in this study. Furthermore, we show that contributions of evapotranspiration to the overall water vapor budget were nonnegligible prior to TCMI cases and that evapotranspiration along storm inflow was significantly (p < 0.05) greater for TCMI cases than non-TCMI cases suggesting a potential upstream contribution from the land surface.

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Noah S. Brauer, Jeffrey B. Basara, Pierre E. Kirstetter, Ryann A. Wakefield, Cameron R. Homeyer, Jinwoong Yoo, Marshall Shepherd, and Joseph. A. Santanello Jr.

Abstract

Tropical Storm Bill produced over 400 mm of rainfall in portions of southern Oklahoma from 16 to 20 June 2015, adding to the catastrophic urban and river flooding that occurred throughout the region in the month prior to landfall. The unprecedented excessive precipitation event that occurred across Oklahoma and Texas during May and June 2015 resulted in anomalously high soil moisture and latent heat fluxes over the region, acting to increase the available boundary layer moisture. Tropical Storm Bill progressed inland over the region of anomalous soil moisture and latent heat fluxes, which helped maintain polarimetric radar signatures associated with tropical, warm rain events. Vertical profiles of polarimetric radar variables such as Z H, Z DR, K DP, and ρ hv were analyzed in time and space over Texas and Oklahoma. The profiles suggest that Tropical Storm Bill maintained warm rain signatures and collision–coalescence processes as it tracked hundreds of kilometers inland away from the landfall point consistent with tropical cyclone precipitation characteristics. Dual-frequency precipitation radar observations from the NASA GPM DPR were also analyzed post-landfall and showed similar signatures of collision–coalescence while Bill moved over north Texas, southern Oklahoma, eastern Missouri, and western Kentucky.

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Paul A. Dirmeyer, Jiexia Wu, Holly E. Norton, Wouter A. Dorigo, Steven M. Quiring, Trenton W. Ford, Joseph A. Santanello Jr., Michael G. Bosilovich, Michael B. Ek, Randal D. Koster, Gianpaolo Balsamo, and David M. Lawrence

Abstract

Four land surface models in uncoupled and coupled configurations are compared to observations of daily soil moisture from 19 networks in the conterminous United States to determine the viability of such comparisons and explore the characteristics of model and observational data. First, observations are analyzed for error characteristics and representation of spatial and temporal variability. Some networks have multiple stations within an area comparable to model grid boxes; for those it is found that aggregation of stations before calculation of statistics has little effect on estimates of variance, but soil moisture memory is sensitive to aggregation. Statistics for some networks stand out as unlike those of their neighbors, likely because of differences in instrumentation, calibration, and maintenance. Buried sensors appear to have less random error than near-field remote sensing techniques, and heat-dissipation sensors show less temporal variability than other types. Model soil moistures are evaluated using three metrics: standard deviation in time, temporal correlation (memory), and spatial correlation (length scale). Models do relatively well in capturing large-scale variability of metrics across climate regimes, but they poorly reproduce observed patterns at scales of hundreds of kilometers and smaller. Uncoupled land models do no better than coupled model configurations, nor do reanalyses outperform free-running models. Spatial decorrelation scales are found to be difficult to diagnose. Using data for model validation, calibration, or data assimilation from multiple soil moisture networks with different types of sensors and measurement techniques requires great caution. Data from models and observations should be put on the same spatial and temporal scales before comparison.

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