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Paul A. Dirmeyer
,
A. J. Dolman
, and
Nobuo Sato

The Global Soil Wetness Project (GSWP) is an ongoing land surface modeling activity of the International Satellite Land-Surface Climatology Project (ISLSCP), a part of the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment. The pilot phase of GSWP deals with the production of a two-year global dataset of soil moisture, temperature, runoff, and surface fluxes by integrating uncoupled land surface schemes (LSSs) using externally specified surface forcings from observations and standardized soil and vegetation distributions. Approximately one dozen participating LSS groups in five nations have taken the common ISLSCP forcing data to drive their state-of-the-art models over the 1987–88 period to generate global datasets. Many of the LSS groups have performed specific sensitivity studies, which are intended to evaluate the impact of uncertainties in model parameters and forcing fields on simulation of the surface water and energy balances. A validation effort exists to compare the global products to other forms of estimation and measurement, either directly (by comparison to field studies or soil moisture measuring networks) or indirectly (e.g., use of modeled runoff to drive river routing schemes for comparison to streamflow data). The soil wetness data produced are also being tested within general circulation models to evaluate their quality and their impact on seasonal to interannual climate simulations. An Inter-Comparison Center has also been established for evaluating and comparing data from the different LSSs. Comparison among the model results is used to assess the uncertainty in estimates of surface components of the moisture and energy balances at large scales and as a quality check on the model products themselves.

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Liang Chen
,
Paul A. Dirmeyer
,
Ahmed Tawfik
, and
David M. Lawrence

Abstract

The land surface state can be an important factor in the triggering of precipitation, whose depiction in Earth system models (ESMs) crucially relies on the representation of convective initiation. However, the sensitivity of land-cover change–precipitation feedbacks to different parameterized triggering criteria in ESMs has not been examined. In this study, a new triggering mechanism based on the heated condensation framework (HCF) is implemented in the Community Earth System Model (CESM). A set of land-cover change experiments with different convective triggering conditions are performed to evaluate the influence of convective triggering on land–atmosphere coupling strength and the response of summer afternoon precipitation to land-cover change over North America. Compared with the default parameterization, which depends on a CAPE threshold, the HCF trigger shows an improvement in the diurnal timing of summer precipitation but larger dry biases over much of the study area. With the HCF trigger, CESM exhibits weakened coupling strength between soil moisture and surface turbulent fluxes over the Great Plains. The surface temperature deficit, as an additional triggering criterion in HCF, is not significantly coupled with surface fluxes over the central Great Plains despite strong latent heat–CAPE coupling. In contrast to the CAPE-trigger simulations, which indicate increased precipitation over the Great Plains after agricultural expansion, the HCF-trigger simulations show significantly increased afternoon precipitation only over the northern plains, which is mainly associated with more frequent deep convection. The discrepancies suggest caveats when investigating the impacts of land-cover change on precipitation, because the magnitude and spatial patterns of precipitation change can be greatly affected by the treatment of convection in ESMs.

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Joseph A. Santanello Jr.
,
Joshua Roundy
, and
Paul A. Dirmeyer

Abstract

The coupling of the land with the planetary boundary layer (PBL) on diurnal time scales is critical to regulating the strength of the connection between soil moisture and precipitation. To improve understanding of land–atmosphere (L–A) interactions, recent studies have focused on the development of diagnostics to quantify the strength and accuracy of the land–PBL coupling at the process level. In this paper, the authors apply a suite of local land–atmosphere coupling (LoCo) metrics to modern reanalysis (RA) products and observations during a 17-yr period over the U.S. southern Great Plains. Specifically, a range of diagnostics exploring the links between soil moisture, evaporation, PBL height, temperature, humidity, and precipitation is applied to the summertime monthly mean diurnal cycles of the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR), Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA), and Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR). Results show that CFSR is the driest and MERRA the wettest of the three RAs in terms of overall surface–PBL coupling. When compared against observations, CFSR has a significant dry bias that impacts all components of the land–PBL system. CFSR and NARR are more similar in terms of PBL dynamics and response to dry and wet extremes, while MERRA is more constrained in terms of evaporation and PBL variability. Each RA has a unique land–PBL coupling that has implications for downstream impacts on the diurnal cycle of PBL evolution, clouds, convection, and precipitation as well as representation of extremes and drought. As a result, caution should be used when treating RAs as truth in terms of their water and energy cycle processes.

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Vasubandhu Misra
,
Paul A. Dirmeyer
, and
Ben P. Kirtman

Abstract

In this paper multiple atmospheric global circulation model (AGCM) integrations at T42 spectral truncation and prescribed sea surface temperature were used to drive regional spectral model (RSM) simulations at 80-km resolution for the austral summer season (January–February–March). Relative to the AGCM, the RSM improves the ensemble mean simulation of precipitation and the lower- and upper-level tropospheric circulation over both tropical and subtropical South America and the neighboring ocean basins. It is also seen that the RSM exacerbates the dry bias over the northern tip of South America and the Nordeste region, and perpetuates the erroneous split intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) over both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean basins from the AGCM. The RSM at 80-km horizontal resolution is able to reasonably resolve the Altiplano plateau. This led to an improvement in the mean precipitation over the plateau. The improved resolution orography in the RSM did not substantially change the predictability of the precipitation, surface fluxes, or upper- and lower-level winds in the vicinity of the Andes Mountains from the AGCM. In spite of identical convective and land surface parameterization schemes, the diagnostic quantities, such as precipitation and surface fluxes, show significant differences in the intramodel variability over oceans and certain parts of the Amazon River basin (ARB). However, the prognostic variables of the models exhibit relatively similar model noise structures and magnitude. This suggests that the model physics are in large part responsible for the divergence of the solutions in the two models. However, the surface temperature and fluxes from the land surface scheme of the model [Simplified Simple Biosphere scheme (SSiB)] display comparable intramodel variability, except over certain parts of ARB in the two models. This suggests a certain resilience of predictability in SSiB (over the chosen domain of study) to variations in horizontal resolution. It is seen in this study that the summer precipitation over tropical and subtropical South America is highly unpredictable in both models.

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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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Paul A. Dirmeyer
,
Yan Jin
,
Bohar Singh
, and
Xiaoqin Yan

Abstract

Data from 15 models of phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) for preindustrial, historical, and future climate change experiments are examined for consensus changes in land surface variables, fluxes, and metrics relevant to land–atmosphere interactions. Consensus changes in soil moisture and latent heat fluxes for past-to-present and present-to-future periods are consistent with CMIP3 simulations, showing a general drying trend over land (less soil moisture, less evaporation) over most of the globe, with the notable exception of high northern latitudes during winter. Sensible heat flux and net radiation declined from preindustrial times to current conditions according to the multimodel consensus, mainly due to increasing aerosols, but that trend reverses abruptly in the future projection. No broad trends are found in soil moisture memory except for reductions during boreal winter associated with high-latitude warming and diminution of frozen soils. Land–atmosphere coupling is projected to increase in the future across most of the globe, meaning a greater control by soil moisture variations on surface fluxes and the lower troposphere. There is also a strong consensus for a deepening atmospheric boundary layer and diminished gradients across the entrainment zone at the top of the boundary layer, indicating that the land surface feedback on the atmosphere should become stronger both in absolute terms and relative to the influence of the conditions of the free atmosphere. Coupled with the trend toward greater hydrologic extremes such as severe droughts, the land surface seems likely to play a greater role in amplifying both extremes and trends in climate on subseasonal and longer time scales.

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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 US 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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Li Zhang
,
Paul A. Dirmeyer
,
Jiangfeng Wei
,
Zhichang Guo
, and
Cheng-Hsuan Lu

Abstract

The operational coupled land–atmosphere forecast model from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) is evaluated for the strength and characteristics of its coupling in the water cycle between land and atmosphere. Following the protocols of the Global Land–Atmosphere Coupling Experiment (GLACE) it is found that the Global Forecast System (GFS) atmospheric model coupled to the Noah land surface model exhibits extraordinarily weak land–atmosphere coupling, much as its predecessor, the GFS–Oregon State University (OSU) coupled system. The coupling strength is evaluated by the ability of subsurface soil wetness to affect locally the time series of precipitation. The surface fluxes in Noah are also found to be rather insensitive to subsurface soil wetness. Comparison to another atmospheric model coupled to Noah as well as a different land surface model show that Noah is responsible for some of the lack of sensitivity, primarily because its thick (10 cm) surface layer dominates the variability in surface latent heat fluxes. Noah is found to be as responsive as other land surface models to surface soil wetness and temperature variations, suggesting the design of the GLACE sensitivity experiment (based only on subsurface soil wetness) handicapped the Noah model. Additional experiments, in which the parameterization of evapotranspiration is altered, as well as experiments where surface soil wetness is also constrained, isolate the GFS atmospheric model as the principal source of the weak sensitivity of precipitation to land surface states.

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Paul A. Dirmeyer
,
Jiangfeng Wei
,
Michael G. Bosilovich
, and
David M. Mocko

Abstract

A quasi-isentropic, back-trajectory scheme is applied to output from the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) and a land-only replay with corrected precipitation to estimate surface evaporative sources of moisture supplying precipitation over every ice-free land location for the period 1979–2005. The evaporative source patterns for any location and time period are effectively two-dimensional probability distributions. As such, the evaporative sources for extreme situations like droughts or wet intervals can be compared to the corresponding climatological distributions using the method of relative entropy. Significant differences are found to be common and widespread for droughts, but not wet periods, when monthly data are examined. At pentad temporal resolution, which is more able to isolate floods and situations of atmospheric rivers, values of relative entropy over North America are typically 50%–400% larger than at monthly time scales. Significant differences suggest that moisture transport may be a key factor in precipitation extremes. Where evaporative sources do not change significantly, it implies other local causes may underlie the extreme events.

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Randal D. Koster
,
Zhichang Guo
,
Rongqian Yang
,
Paul A. Dirmeyer
,
Kenneth Mitchell
, and
Michael J. Puma

Abstract

The soil moisture state simulated by a land surface model is a highly model-dependent quantity, meaning that the direct transfer of one model’s soil moisture into another can lead to a fundamental, and potentially detrimental, inconsistency. This is first illustrated with two recent examples, one from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) involving seasonal precipitation forecasting and another from the realm of ecological modeling. The issue is then further addressed through a quantitative analysis of soil moisture contents produced as part of a global offline simulation experiment in which a number of land surface models were driven with the same atmospheric forcing fields. These latter comparisons clearly demonstrate, on a global scale, the degree to which model-simulated soil moisture variables differ from each other and that these differences extend beyond those associated with model-specific layer thicknesses or soil texture. The offline comparisons also show, however, that once the climatological statistics of each model’s soil moisture variable are accounted for (here, through a simple scaling using the first two moments), the different land models tend to produce very similar information on temporal soil moisture variability in most parts of the world. This common information can perhaps be used as the basis for successful mappings between the soil moisture variables in different land models.

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