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Jiangfeng Wei
,
Paul A. Dirmeyer
, and
Zhichang Guo

Abstract

The Global Land–Atmosphere Coupling Experiment (GLACE) built a framework to estimate the strength of the land–atmosphere interaction across many weather and climate models. Within this framework, GLACE-type experiments are performed with a single atmospheric model coupled to three different land models. The precipitation time series is decomposed into three frequency bands to investigate the large-scale connection between external forcing, precipitation variability and predictability, and land–atmosphere coupling strength. It is found that coupling to different land models or prescribing subsurface soil moisture does not change the global pattern of precipitation predictability and variability too much. However, the regional impact of soil moisture can be highlighted by calculating the land–atmosphere coupling strength, which shows very different patterns for the three models. The estimated precipitation predictability and land–atmosphere coupling strength is mainly associated with the low-frequency component of precipitation (periods beyond 3 weeks). Based on these findings, the land–atmosphere coupling strength is conceptually decomposed into the impact of low-frequency external forcing and the impact of soil moisture. Because most models participating in GLACE have overestimated the low-frequency component of precipitation, a calibration to the GLACE-estimated land–atmosphere coupling strength is performed. The calibrated coupling strength is generally weaker, but the global pattern does not change much. This study provides an important clarification of land–atmosphere coupling strength and increases the understanding of the land–atmosphere interaction.

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Paul A. Dirmeyer
,
Timothy DelSole
, and
Mei Zhao

Abstract

Empirical correction is applied to wind, temperature, and soil moisture fields in a climate model to assess its impact on simulation of the water cycle during boreal summer. The empirical correction method is based on the biases in model forecasts only as a function of the time of year. Corrections are applied to the prognostic equations as an extra nudging term. Mean fields of evaporation, precipitation, moisture transport, and recycling ratio are all improved, even though humidity fields were not corrected. Simulation of the patterns of surface evaporation supplying rainfall at locations over land is also improved for most locations. There is also improvement in the simulation of evaporation and possibly rainfall, as measured by anomaly correlation coefficients and root-mean-square errors of the time series of monthly anomalies. However, monthly anomalies of other water cycle fields such as moisture transport and recycling ratio were not improved. Like any statistical adjustment, empirical correction does not address the cause of model errors, but it does provide a net improvement to the simulation of the water cycle. It can, however, be used to diagnose the sources of error in the model. Since corrections are only applied to prognostic variables, shortcomings due to physical parameterizations in the model are not remedied.

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Paul A. Dirmeyer
and
James L. Kinter III

Abstract

The characteristics of situations of extremely high rainfall over the midwestern region of the United States during late spring and summer are investigated from the perspective of the regional water cycle using observations and observationally based analyses. The period of May–July has the greatest mean rainfall rates of the year and higher interannual variability than the periods either before or after. This is also a critical time of year for water resources and cultivation schedules in this agriculturally important region. Large-scale floods during this time of year are usually characterized by an enhanced source of moisture evaporating from low latitudes, specifically the Caribbean Sea. This is part of a fetch of moisture that extends from the Caribbean northward along the coast of Central America, over the Yucatan Peninsula, along the east coast of Mexico and the western Gulf of Mexico, and over Texas, where it links into the Great Plains low-level jet. In fact, heavy rainfall over much of the eastern half of the United States is associated with above-average Caribbean moisture supply. There is also indication of an enhanced source of moisture from the subtropical Pacific during Midwest flood events. Drought events appear to have a different spatial pattern of water cycle variables and circulation anomalies, and are not simply equal and opposite manifestations of flood events. While not a dominant source of moisture even during extreme events, the Caribbean region seems to be part of an important link for remote moisture, supplying floods over the Midwest.

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Finley M. Hay-Chapman
and
Paul A. Dirmeyer

Abstract

The response of boundary layer properties and cloudiness to changes in surface evaporative fraction (EF) is investigated in a single-column model to quantify the locally coupled impact of subgrid surface variations on the atmosphere during summer. Sensitive coupling days are defined when the model atmosphere exhibits large variations across a range of EFs centered on the analyzed value. Coupling sensitivity exists as both positive feedback (cloudiness increases with EF) and negative feedback (clouds increase with decreasing EF) regimes. The positive regime manifests in shallow convection situations, which are capped by a strengthened inversion and subsidence, restricting the vertical extent of convection to just above the boundary layer. Surfaces with larger EF (greater surface latent heat flux) can inject more moisture into the vertically confined system, lowering the cloud base and an increasing cloud liquid water path (LWP). Negative feedback regimes tend to manifest when large-scale deep convection, such as from mesoscale convective systems and fronts, is advected through the domain, where convection strengthens over surfaces with a lower EF (greater surface sensible heat flux). The invigoration of these systems by the land surface leads to an increase in LWP through strengthened updrafts and stronger coupling between the boundary layer and the free atmosphere. These results apply in the absence of heterogeneity-induced mesoscale circulations, providing a one-dimensional dynamical perspective on the effect of surface heterogeneity. This study provides a framework of intermediate complexity, lying between parcel theory and high-resolution coupled land–atmosphere modeling, and therefore isolates the relevant first-order processes in land–atmosphere interactions.

Significance Statement

Cloud formation, distribution, and other properties may be sensitive to heterogeneous surfaces depending on the strength and location of such heterogeneities and the background atmospheric state. This may drive differences in the cloud population depending on which part of the domain one is located. This may also lead to mesoscale circulations, which may strengthen or weaken this effect. Currently, climate models act on scales (∼100 km) that are too large to explicitly represent these processes, which are strongest at smaller scales (around 5–40 km). Therefore, subgrid-scale heterogeneity is neglected, and any predictability and model fidelity it may provide is lost. We use a simple model to diagnose sensitivity of the local atmosphere to surface variations meant to represent possible subgrid heterogeneity, providing a first-order estimate of its effect. We conclude that preferentially sensitive atmospheric states exist that lead to positive and/or negative feedback between land and atmosphere. This information is valuable to future climate model parameterizations aimed at improving the representation of these feedbacks.

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Xiang Gao
,
Paul A. Dirmeyer
,
Zhichang Guo
, and
Mei Zhao

Abstract

A coupled land–atmosphere climate model is used to investigate the impact of vegetation parameters (leaf area index, absorbed radiation, and greenness fraction) on the simulation of surface fluxes and their potential role in improving climate forecasts. Ensemble simulations for 1986–95 have been conducted with specified observed sea surface temperatures. The vegetation impact is analyzed by comparing integrations with two different ways of specifying vegetation boundary conditions: observed interannually varying vegetation versus the climatological annual cycle. Parallel integrations are also implemented and analyzed for the land surface model in an uncoupled mode within the framework of the Second Global Soil Wetness Project (GSWP-2) for the same period. The sensitivity to vegetation anomalies in the coupled simulations appears to be relatively small. There appears to be only episodic and localized favorable impacts of vegetation variations on the skill of precipitation and temperature simulations. Impacts are sometimes manifested strictly through changes in land surface fluxes, and in other cases involve clear interactions with atmospheric processes. In general, interannual variations of vegetation tend to increase the temporal variability of radiation fluxes, soil evaporation, and canopy interception loss in terms of both spatial frequency and global mean. Over cohesive regions of significant and persistent vegetation anomalies, cumulative statistics do show a net response of surface fluxes, temperature, and precipitation with vegetation anomalies of ±20% corresponding to a precipitation response of about ±6%. However, in about half of these cases no significant response was found. The results presented here suggest that vegetation may be a useful element of the land surface for enhancing seasonal predictability, but its role in this model appears to be relatively minor. Improvement does not occur in all circumstances, and strong anomalies have the best chance of a positive impact on the simulation.

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Eunkyo Seo
,
Paul A. Dirmeyer
,
Michael Barlage
,
Heiln Wei
, and
Michael Ek

Abstract

This study investigates the performance of the latter NCEP Unified Forecast System (UFS) Coupled Model prototype simulations (P5–P8) during boreal summer 2011–17 in regard to coupled land–atmosphere processes and their effect on model bias. Major land physics updates were implemented during the course of model development. Namely, the Noah land surface model was replaced with Noah-MP and the global vegetation dataset was updated starting with P7. These changes occurred along with many other UFS improvements. This study investigates UFS’s ability to simulate observed surface conditions in 35-day predictions based on the fidelity of model land surface processes. Several land surface states and fluxes are evaluated against flux tower observations across the globe, and segmented coupling processes are also diagnosed using process-based multivariate metrics. Near-surface meteorological variables generally improve, especially surface air temperature, and the land–atmosphere coupling metrics better represent the observed covariance between surface soil moisture and surface fluxes of moisture and radiation. Moreover, this study finds that temperature biases over the contiguous United States are connected to the model’s ability to simulate the different balances of coupled processes between water-limited and energy-limited regions. Sensitivity to land initial conditions is also implicated as a source of forecast error. Above all, this study presents a blueprint for the validation of coupled land–atmosphere behavior in forecast models, which is a crucial model development task to assure forecast fidelity from day one through subseasonal time scales.

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Paul A. Dirmeyer
,
Randal D. Koster
, and
Zhichang Guo

Abstract

The Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment/Climate Variability and Predictability (GEWEX/CLIVAR) Global Land–Atmosphere Coupling Experiment (GLACE) has provided an estimate of the global distribution of land–atmosphere coupling strength during boreal summer based on the results from a dozen weather and climate models. However, there is a great deal of variation among models, attributable to a range of sensitivities in the simulation of both the terrestrial and atmospheric branches of the hydrologic cycle. It remains an open question whether any of the models, or the multimodel estimate, reflects the actual pattern and strength of land–atmosphere coupling in the earth’s hydrologic cycle. The authors attempt to diagnose this by examining the local covariability of key atmospheric and land surface variables both in models and in those few locations where comparable, relatively complete, long-term measurements exist. Most models do not encompass well the observed relationships between surface and atmospheric state variables and fluxes, suggesting that these models do not represent land–atmosphere coupling correctly. Specifically, there is evidence that systematic biases in near-surface temperature and humidity among all models may contribute to incorrect surface flux sensitivities. However, the multimodel mean generally validates better than most or all of the individual models. Regional precipitation behavior (lagged autocorrelation and predisposition toward maintenance of extremes) between models and observations is also compared. Again a great deal of variation is found among the participating models, but remarkably accurate behavior of the multimodel mean.

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Timothy DelSole
,
Mei Zhao
,
Paul A. Dirmeyer
, and
Ben P. Kirtman

Abstract

This paper investigates empirical strategies for correcting the bias of a coupled land–atmosphere model and tests the hypothesis that a bias correction can improve the skill of such models. The correction strategies investigated include 1) relaxation methods, 2) nudging based on long-term biases, and 3) nudging based on tendency errors. The last method involves estimating the tendency errors of prognostic variables based on short forecasts—say lead times of 24 h or less—and then subtracting the climatological mean value of the tendency errors at every time step. By almost any measure, the best correction strategy is found to be nudging based on tendency errors. This method significantly reduces biases in the long-term forecasts of temperature and soil moisture, and preserves the variance of the forecast field, unlike relaxation methods. Tendency errors estimated from ten 1-day forecasts produced just as effective corrections as tendency errors estimated from all days in a month, implying that the method is trivial to implement by modern standards. Disappointingly, none of the methods investigated consistently improved the random error variance of the model, although this finding may be model dependent. Nevertheless, the empirical correction method is argued to be worthwhile even if it improves only the bias, because the method has only marginal impacts on the numerical speed and represents forecast error in the form of a tendency error that can be compared directly to other terms in the tendency equations, which in turn provides clues as to the source of the forecast error.

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Chul-Su Shin
,
Paul A. Dirmeyer
, and
Bohua Huang

Abstract

Normalized mutual information (NMI) is a nonparametric measure of the dependence between two variables without assumptions about the shape of their bivariate data distributions, but the implementation and interpretation of NMI in the coupled climate system is more complicated than for linear correlations. This study presents a joint approach combining correlation and NMI to examine land and ocean surface forcing of U.S. drought at varying lead times. Based on the distribution of correlation versus NMI between a source variable (local or remote forcing) and target variable [e.g., summer precipitation in the southern Great Plains (SGP)], newly proposed one-tail significance levels for NMI combined with two-tailed significance levels of correlation enable us to discern linearity and nonlinearity dominant regimes in a more intuitive way. Our analysis finds that NMI can detect strong linear relationships like correlations, but it is not exclusively tuned to linear relationships as correlations are. Also, NMI can further identify nonlinear relationships, particularly when there are clusters and blank areas (high density and low density) in joint probability distributions between source and target variables (e.g., detected between soil moisture conditions in eastern Montana from mid-February to mid-August and summer precipitation in the SGP). The linear and nonlinear information are found to be sometimes mixed and rather convoluted with time, for instance, in the subtropical Pacific of the Southern Hemisphere, revealing relationships that cannot be fully detected by either NMI or correlation alone. Therefore, this joint approach is a potentially powerful tool to reveal complex and heretofore undetected relationships.

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Ahmed B. Tawfik
,
Paul A. Dirmeyer
, and
Joseph A. Santanello Jr.

Abstract

This study extends the heated condensation framework (HCF) presented in Tawfik and Dirmeyer to include variables for describing the convective background state of the atmosphere used to quantify the contribution of the atmosphere to convective initiation within the context of land–atmosphere coupling. In particular, the ability for the full suite of HCF variables to 1) quantify the amount of latent and sensible heat energy necessary for convective initiation, 2) identify the transition from moistening advantage to boundary layer growth advantage, 3) identify locally originating convection, and 4) compare models and observations, directly highlighting biases in the convective state, is demonstrated. These capabilities are illustrated for a clear-sky and convectively active day over the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program Southern Great Plains central station using observations, the Rapid Update Cycle (RUC) operational model, and the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR). The clear-sky day had a higher and unattainable convective threshold, making convective initiation unlikely. The convectively active day had a lower threshold that was attained by midafternoon, reflecting local convective triggering. Compared to observations, RUC tended to have the most difficulty representing the convective state and captured the threshold for the clear-sky case only because of compensating biases in the moisture and temperature profiles. Despite capturing the observed moisture profile very well, a stronger surface inversion in NARR returned overestimates in the convective threshold. The companion paper applies the HCF variables introduced here across the continental United States to examine the climatological behavior of convective initiation and local land–atmosphere coupling.

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