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M. J. Best, G. Abramowitz, H. R. Johnson, A. J. Pitman, G. Balsamo, A. Boone, M. Cuntz, B. Decharme, P. A. Dirmeyer, J. Dong, M. Ek, Z. Guo, V. Haverd, B. J. J. van den Hurk, G. S. Nearing, B. Pak, C. Peters-Lidard, J. A. Santanello Jr., L. Stevens, and N. Vuichard

Abstract

The Protocol for the Analysis of Land Surface Models (PALS) Land Surface Model Benchmarking Evaluation Project (PLUMBER) was designed to be a land surface model (LSM) benchmarking intercomparison. Unlike the traditional methods of LSM evaluation or comparison, benchmarking uses a fundamentally different approach in that it sets expectations of performance in a range of metrics a priori—before model simulations are performed. This can lead to very different conclusions about LSM performance. For this study, both simple physically based models and empirical relationships were used as the benchmarks. Simulations were performed with 13 LSMs using atmospheric forcing for 20 sites, and then model performance relative to these benchmarks was examined. Results show that even for commonly used statistical metrics, the LSMs’ performance varies considerably when compared to the different benchmarks. All models outperform the simple physically based benchmarks, but for sensible heat flux the LSMs are themselves outperformed by an out-of-sample linear regression against downward shortwave radiation. While moisture information is clearly central to latent heat flux prediction, the LSMs are still outperformed by a three-variable nonlinear regression that uses instantaneous atmospheric humidity and temperature in addition to downward shortwave radiation. These results highlight the limitations of the prevailing paradigm of LSM evaluation that simply compares an LSM to observations and to other LSMs without a mechanism to objectively quantify the expectations of performance. The authors conclude that their results challenge the conceptual view of energy partitioning at the land surface.

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Reinder A. Feddes, Holger Hoff, Michael Bruen, Todd Dawson, Patricia de Rosnay, Paul Dirmeyer, Robert B. Jackson, Pavel Kabat, Axel Kleidon, Allan Lilly, and Andrew J. Pitman

From 30 September to 2 October 1999 a workshop was held in Gif-sur-Yvette, France, with the central objective to develop a research strategy for the next 3–5 years, aiming at a systematic description of root functioning, rooting depth, and root distribution for modeling root water uptake from local and regional to global scales. The goal was to link more closely the weather prediction and climate and hydrological models with ecological and plant physiological information in order to improve the understanding of the impact that root functioning has on the hydrological cycle at various scales. The major outcome of the workshop was a number of recommendations, detailed at the end of this paper, on root water uptake parameterization and modeling and on collection of root and soil hydraulic data.

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T. H. Chen, A. Henderson-Sellers, P. C. D. Milly, A. J. Pitman, A. C. M. Beljaars, J. Polcher, F. Abramopoulos, A. Boone, S. Chang, F. Chen, Y. Dai, C. E. Desborough, R. E. Dickinson, L. Dümenil, M. Ek, J. R. Garratt, N. Gedney, Y. M. Gusev, J. Kim, R. Koster, E. A. Kowalczyk, K. Laval, J. Lean, D. Lettenmaier, X. Liang, J.-F. Mahfouf, H.-T. Mengelkamp, K. Mitchell, O. N. Nasonova, J. Noilhan, A. Robock, C. Rosenzweig, J. Schaake, C. A. Schlosser, J.-P. Schulz, Y. Shao, A. B. Shmakin, D. L. Verseghy, P. Wetzel, E. F. Wood, Y. Xue, Z.-L. Yang, and Q. Zeng

Abstract

In the Project for Intercomparison of Land-Surface Parameterization Schemes phase 2a experiment, meteorological data for the year 1987 from Cabauw, the Netherlands, were used as inputs to 23 land-surface flux schemes designed for use in climate and weather models. Schemes were evaluated by comparing their outputs with long-term measurements of surface sensible heat fluxes into the atmosphere and the ground, and of upward longwave radiation and total net radiative fluxes, and also comparing them with latent heat fluxes derived from a surface energy balance. Tuning of schemes by use of the observed flux data was not permitted. On an annual basis, the predicted surface radiative temperature exhibits a range of 2 K across schemes, consistent with the range of about 10 W m−2 in predicted surface net radiation. Most modeled values of monthly net radiation differ from the observations by less than the estimated maximum monthly observational error (±10 W m−2). However, modeled radiative surface temperature appears to have a systematic positive bias in most schemes; this might be explained by an error in assumed emissivity and by models’ neglect of canopy thermal heterogeneity. Annual means of sensible and latent heat fluxes, into which net radiation is partitioned, have ranges across schemes of30 W m−2 and 25 W m−2, respectively. Annual totals of evapotranspiration and runoff, into which the precipitation is partitioned, both have ranges of 315 mm. These ranges in annual heat and water fluxes were approximately halved upon exclusion of the three schemes that have no stomatal resistance under non-water-stressed conditions. Many schemes tend to underestimate latent heat flux and overestimate sensible heat flux in summer, with a reverse tendency in winter. For six schemes, root-mean-square deviations of predictions from monthly observations are less than the estimated upper bounds on observation errors (5 W m−2 for sensible heat flux and 10 W m−2 for latent heat flux). Actual runoff at the site is believed to be dominated by vertical drainage to groundwater, but several schemes produced significant amounts of runoff as overland flow or interflow. There is a range across schemes of 184 mm (40% of total pore volume) in the simulated annual mean root-zone soil moisture. Unfortunately, no measurements of soil moisture were available for model evaluation. A theoretical analysis suggested that differences in boundary conditions used in various schemes are not sufficient to explain the large variance in soil moisture. However, many of the extreme values of soil moisture could be explained in terms of the particulars of experimental setup or excessive evapotranspiration.

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Ned Haughton, Gab Abramowitz, Andy J. Pitman, Dani Or, Martin J. Best, Helen R. Johnson, Gianpaolo Balsamo, Aaron Boone, Matthias Cuntz, Bertrand Decharme, Paul A. Dirmeyer, Jairui Dong, Michael Ek, Zichang Guo, Vanessa Haverd, Bart J. J. van den Hurk, Grey S. Nearing, Bernard Pak, Joe A. Santanello Jr., Lauren E. Stevens, and Nicolas Vuichard

Abstract

The Protocol for the Analysis of Land Surface Models (PALS) Land Surface Model Benchmarking Evaluation Project (PLUMBER) illustrated the value of prescribing a priori performance targets in model intercomparisons. It showed that the performance of turbulent energy flux predictions from different land surface models, at a broad range of flux tower sites using common evaluation metrics, was on average worse than relatively simple empirical models. For sensible heat fluxes, all land surface models were outperformed by a linear regression against downward shortwave radiation. For latent heat flux, all land surface models were outperformed by a regression against downward shortwave radiation, surface air temperature, and relative humidity. These results are explored here in greater detail and possible causes are investigated. It is examined whether particular metrics or sites unduly influence the collated results, whether results change according to time-scale aggregation, and whether a lack of energy conservation in flux tower data gives the empirical models an unfair advantage in the intercomparison. It is demonstrated that energy conservation in the observational data is not responsible for these results. It is also shown that the partitioning between sensible and latent heat fluxes in LSMs, rather than the calculation of available energy, is the cause of the original findings. Finally, evidence is presented that suggests that the nature of this partitioning problem is likely shared among all contributing LSMs. While a single candidate explanation for why land surface models perform poorly relative to empirical benchmarks in PLUMBER could not be found, multiple possible explanations are excluded and guidance is provided on where future research should focus.

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A. Boone, F. Habets, J. Noilhan, D. Clark, P. Dirmeyer, S. Fox, Y. Gusev, I. Haddeland, R. Koster, D. Lohmann, S. Mahanama, K. Mitchell, O. Nasonova, G.-Y. Niu, A. Pitman, J. Polcher, A. B. Shmakin, K. Tanaka, B. van den Hurk, S. Vérant, D. Verseghy, P. Viterbo, and Z.-L. Yang

Abstract

The Rhône-Aggregation (Rhône-AGG) Land Surface Scheme (LSS) intercomparison project is an initiative within the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX)/Global Land–Atmosphere System Study (GLASS) panel of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). It is a intermediate step leading up to the next phase of the Global Soil Wetness Project (GSWP) (Phase 2), for which there will be a broader investigation of the aggregation between global scales (GSWP-1) and the river scale. This project makes use of the Rhône modeling system, which was developed in recent years by the French research community in order to study the continental water cycle on a regional scale.

The main goals of this study are to investigate how 15 LSSs simulate the water balance for several annual cycles compared to data from a dense observation network consisting of daily discharge from over 145 gauges and daily snow depth from 24 sites, and to examine the impact of changing the spatial scale on the simulations. The overall evapotranspiration, runoff, and monthly change in water storage are similarly simulated by the LSSs, however, the differing partitioning among the fluxes results in very different river discharges and soil moisture equilibrium states. Subgrid runoff is especially important for discharge at the daily timescale and for smaller-scale basins. Also, models using an explicit treatment of the snowpack compared better with the observations than simpler composite schemes.

Results from a series of scaling experiments are examined for which the spatial resolution of the computational grid is decreased to be consistent with large-scale atmospheric models. The impact of upscaling on the domain-averaged hydrological components is similar among most LSSs, with increased evaporation of water intercepted by the canopy and a decrease in surface runoff representing the most consistent inter-LSS responses. A significant finding is that the snow water equivalent is greatly reduced by upscaling in all LSSs but one that explicitly accounts for subgrid-scale orography effects on the atmospheric forcing.

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Weiqing Qu, A. Henderson-Sellers, A. J. Pitman, T. H. Chen, F. Abramopoulos, A. Boone, S. Chang, F. Chen, Y. Dai, R. E. Dickinson, L. Dümenil, M. Ek, N. Gedney, Y. M. Gusev, J. Kim, R. Koster, E. A. Kowalczyk, J. Lean, D. Lettenmaier, X. Liang, J.-F. Mahfouf, H.-T. Mengelkamp, K. Mitchell, O. N. Nasonova, J. Noilhan, A. Robock, C. Rosenzweig, J. Schaake, C. A. Schlosser, J.-P. Schulz, A. B. Shmakin, D. L. Verseghy, P. Wetzel, E. F. Wood, Z.-L. Yang, and Q. Zeng

Abstract

In the PILPS Phase 2a experiment, 23 land-surface schemes were compared in an off-line control experiment using observed meteorological data from Cabauw, the Netherlands. Two simple sensitivity experiments were also undertaken in which the observed surface air temperature was artificially increased or decreased by 2 K while all other factors remained as observed. On the annual timescale, all schemes show similar responses to these perturbations in latent, sensible heat flux, and other key variables. For the 2-K increase in temperature, surface temperatures and latent heat fluxes all increase while net radiation, sensible heat fluxes, and soil moistures all decrease. The results are reversed for a 2-K temperature decrease. The changes in sensible heat fluxes and, especially, the changes in the latent heat fluxes are not linearly related to the change of temperature. Theoretically, the nonlinear relationship between air temperature and the latent heat flux is evident and due to the convex relationship between air temperature and saturation vapor pressure. A simple test shows that, the effect of the change of air temperature on the atmospheric stratification aside, this nonlinear relationship is shown in the form that the increase of the latent heat flux for a 2-K temperature increase is larger than its decrease for a 2-K temperature decrease. However, the results from the Cabauw sensitivity experiments show that the increase of the latent heat flux in the +2-K experiment is smaller than the decrease of the latent heat flux in the −2-K experiment (we refer to this as the asymmetry). The analysis in this paper shows that this inconsistency between the theoretical relationship and the Cabauw sensitivity experiments results (or the asymmetry) is due to (i) the involvement of the β g formulation, which is a function of a series stress factors that limited the evaporation and whose values change in the ±2-K experiments, leading to strong modifications of the latent heat flux; (ii) the change of the drag coefficient induced by the changes in stratification due to the imposed air temperature changes (±2 K) in parameterizations of latent heat flux common in current land-surface schemes. Among all stress factors involved in the β g formulation, the soil moisture stress in the +2-K experiment induced by the increased evaporation is the main factor that contributes to the asymmetry.

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Nathalie de Noblet-Ducoudré, Juan-Pablo Boisier, Andy Pitman, G. B. Bonan, V. Brovkin, Faye Cruz, C. Delire, V. Gayler, B. J. J. M. van den Hurk, P. J. Lawrence, M. K. van der Molen, C. Müller, C. H. Reick, B. J. Strengers, and A. Voldoire

Abstract

The project Land-Use and Climate, Identification of Robust Impacts (LUCID) was conceived to address the robustness of biogeophysical impacts of historical land use–land cover change (LULCC). LUCID used seven atmosphere–land models with a common experimental design to explore those impacts of LULCC that are robust and consistent across the climate models. The biogeophysical impacts of LULCC were also compared to the impact of elevated greenhouse gases and resulting changes in sea surface temperatures and sea ice extent (CO2SST). Focusing the analysis on Eurasia and North America, this study shows that for a number of variables LULCC has an impact of similar magnitude but of an opposite sign, to increased greenhouse gases and warmer oceans. However, the variability among the individual models’ response to LULCC is larger than that found from the increase in CO2SST. The results of the study show that although the dispersion among the models’ response to LULCC is large, there are a number of robust common features shared by all models: the amount of available energy used for turbulent fluxes is consistent between the models and the changes in response to LULCC depend almost linearly on the amount of trees removed. However, less encouraging is the conclusion that there is no consistency among the various models regarding how LULCC affects the partitioning of available energy between latent and sensible heat fluxes at a specific time. The results therefore highlight the urgent need to evaluate land surface models more thoroughly, particularly how they respond to a perturbation in addition to how they simulate an observed average state.

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A. G. Slater, C. A. Schlosser, C. E. Desborough, A. J. Pitman, A. Henderson-Sellers, A. Robock, K. Ya Vinnikov, J. Entin, K. Mitchell, F. Chen, A. Boone, P. Etchevers, F. Habets, J. Noilhan, H. Braden, P. M. Cox, P. de Rosnay, R. E. Dickinson, Z-L. Yang, Y-J. Dai, Q. Zeng, Q. Duan, V. Koren, S. Schaake, N. Gedney, Ye M. Gusev, O. N. Nasonova, J. Kim, E. A. Kowalczyk, A. B. Shmakin, T. G. Smirnova, D. Verseghy, P. Wetzel, and Y. Xue

Abstract

Twenty-one land surface schemes (LSSs) performed simulations forced by 18 yr of observed meteorological data from a grassland catchment at Valdai, Russia, as part of the Project for the Intercomparison of Land-Surface Parameterization Schemes (PILPS) Phase 2(d). In this paper the authors examine the simulation of snow. In comparison with observations, the models are able to capture the broad features of the snow regime on both an intra- and interannual basis. However, weaknesses in the simulations exist, and early season ablation events are a significant source of model scatter. Over the 18-yr simulation, systematic differences between the models’ snow simulations are evident and reveal specific aspects of snow model parameterization and design as being responsible. Vapor exchange at the snow surface varies widely among the models, ranging from a large net loss to a small net source for the snow season. Snow albedo, fractional snow cover, and their interplay have a large effect on energy available for ablation, with differences among models most evident at low snow depths. The incorporation of the snowpack within an LSS structure affects the method by which snow accesses, as well as utilizes, available energy for ablation. The sensitivity of some models to longwave radiation, the dominant winter radiative flux, is partly due to a stability-induced feedback and the differing abilities of models to exchange turbulent energy with the atmosphere. Results presented in this paper suggest where weaknesses in macroscale snow modeling lie and where both theoretical and observational work should be focused to address these weaknesses.

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Zhichang Guo, Paul A. Dirmeyer, Randal D. Koster, Y. C. Sud, Gordon Bonan, Keith W. Oleson, Edmond Chan, Diana Verseghy, Peter Cox, C. T. Gordon, J. L. McGregor, Shinjiro Kanae, Eva Kowalczyk, David Lawrence, Ping Liu, David Mocko, Cheng-Hsuan Lu, Ken Mitchell, Sergey Malyshev, Bryant McAvaney, Taikan Oki, Tomohito Yamada, Andrew Pitman, Christopher M. Taylor, Ratko Vasic, and Yongkang Xue

Abstract

The 12 weather and climate models participating in the Global Land–Atmosphere Coupling Experiment (GLACE) show both a wide variation in the strength of land–atmosphere coupling and some intriguing commonalities. In this paper, the causes of variations in coupling strength—both the geographic variations within a given model and the model-to-model differences—are addressed. The ability of soil moisture to affect precipitation is examined in two stages, namely, the ability of the soil moisture to affect evaporation, and the ability of evaporation to affect precipitation. Most of the differences between the models and within a given model are found to be associated with the first stage—an evaporation rate that varies strongly and consistently with soil moisture tends to lead to a higher coupling strength. The first-stage differences reflect identifiable differences in model parameterization and model climate. Intermodel differences in the evaporation–precipitation connection, however, also play a key role.

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