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  • Author or Editor: Joseph Santanello x
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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


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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Peter J. Shellito, Sujay V. Kumar, Joseph A. Santanello Jr., Patricia Lawston-Parker, John D. Bolten, Michael H. Cosh, David D. Bosch, Chandra D. Holifield Collins, Stan Livingston, John Prueger, Mark Seyfried, and Patrick J. Starks


The utility of hydrologic land surface models (LSMs) can be enhanced by using information from observational platforms, but mismatches between the two are common. This study assesses the degree to which model agreement with observations is affected by two mechanisms in particular: 1) physical incongruities between the support volumes being characterized and 2) inadequate or inconsistent parameterizations of physical processes. The Noah and Noah-MP LSMs by default characterize surface soil moisture (SSM) in the top 10 cm of the soil column. This depth is notably different from the 5-cm (or less) sensing depth of L-band radiometers such as NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite mission. These depth inconsistencies are examined by using thinner model layers in the Noah and Noah-MP LSMs and comparing resultant simulations to in situ and SMAP soil moisture. In addition, a forward radiative transfer model (RTM) is used to facilitate direct comparisons of LSM-based and SMAP-based L-band Tb retrievals. Agreement between models and observations is quantified using Kolmogorov–Smirnov distance values, calculated from empirical cumulative distribution functions of SSM and Tb time series. Results show that agreement of SSM and Tb with observations depends primarily on systematic biases, and the sign of those biases depends on the particular subspace being analyzed (SSM or Tb). This study concludes that the role of increased soil layer discretization on simulated soil moisture and Tb is secondary to the influence of component parameterizations, the effects of which dominate systematic differences with observations.

Free access
Paul A. Dirmeyer, Liang Chen, Jiexia Wu, Chul-Su Shin, Bohua Huang, Benjamin A. Cash, Michael G. Bosilovich, Sarith Mahanama, Randal D. Koster, Joseph A. Santanello, Michael B. Ek, Gianpaolo Balsamo, Emanuel Dutra, and David M. Lawrence


This study compares four model systems in three configurations (LSM, LSM + GCM, and reanalysis) with global flux tower observations to validate states, surface fluxes, and coupling indices between land and atmosphere. Models clearly underrepresent the feedback of surface fluxes on boundary layer properties (the atmospheric leg of land–atmosphere coupling) and may overrepresent the connection between soil moisture and surface fluxes (the terrestrial leg). Models generally underrepresent spatial and temporal variability relative to observations, which is at least partially an artifact of the differences in spatial scale between model grid boxes and flux tower footprints. All models bias high in near-surface humidity and downward shortwave radiation, struggle to represent precipitation accurately, and show serious problems in reproducing surface albedos. These errors create challenges for models to partition surface energy properly, and errors are traceable through the surface energy and water cycles. The spatial distribution of the amplitude and phase of annual cycles (first harmonic) are generally well reproduced, but the biases in means tend to reflect in these amplitudes. Interannual variability is also a challenge for models to reproduce. Although the models validate better against Bowen-ratio-corrected surface flux observations, which allow for closure of surface energy balances at flux tower sites, it is not clear whether the corrected fluxes are more representative of actual fluxes. The analysis illuminates targets for coupled land–atmosphere model development, as well as the value of long-term globally distributed observational monitoring.

Open access