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Yaling Chen, Jun Wen, Rong Liu, Juan Zhou, and Wenhui Liu

Abstract

Precipitation is one of the most important meteorological factors affecting the water cycle and ecological system over the Source Region of the Three Rivers (SRTR), where the Yangtze River, Yellow River, and Lantsang River originate. The characteristics of annual and summer water vapor transport and budget over the SRTR are analyzed using monthly observational and reanalysis datasets during 1980–2019. The linkage between water vapor transport and summer precipitation is also explored in this study. The results show that the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) data are in agreement with the measured precipitation. The SRTR is a sink region for water vapor, where the water vapor content shows an increasing trend with a rate of 0.2 mm (10 yr)−1 annually and 0.3 mm (10 yr)−1 in the summer. The water vapor mainly flows into the SRTR from the lower (521.2 × 106 kg s−1) and the middle (195.7 × 106 kg s−1) layers of the southern boundary in summer, while it exports from the middle (208.1 × 106 kg s−1) layer of the eastern boundary. The abnormal wind convergence and the low pressure system, combined with the effects of the western Pacific subtropical high and the Mongolian high, provide conditions for the transport of water vapor and precipitation over the SRTR. A close relationship is found between water vapor flux and precipitation from the singular value decomposition (SVD) analysis. The Brahmaputra River basin is the key region of water vapor transport over the SRTR, which contributes to further understanding the mechanisms of water vapor transport and the regional water cycle.

Significance Statement

Under the background of global warming, the Tibetan Plateau has an obvious trend of warming and humidification. The purpose of this study was to investigate the characteristics of water vapor transport and its linkage with summer precipitation over Source Region of the Three Rivers, which is located in the hinterland of the Tibetan Plateau. We found that the Brahmaputra River basin is the key region affecting the precipitation. These findings contribute to the understanding of the regional water cycle characteristics and the mechanism of the synergistic effect of westerly wind and monsoon on the change of “Water Tower of Asia.”

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Donghai Zheng, Rogier van der Velde, Zhongbo Su, Jun Wen, Xin Wang, and Kun Yang

Abstract

This study evaluates the Noah land surface model (LSM) in its ability to simulate water and heat exchanges over frozen ground in a Tibetan meadow ecosystem. A comprehensive dataset including in situ micrometeorological and soil moisture–temperature profile measurements collected between November and March is utilized, and analyses of the measurements reveal that the measured soil freezing characteristics are better captured by 1) modifying the parameter b l implemented in the current Noah LSM that constrains the shape parameter of soil water retention curve utilized by the water potential freezing point depression equation to produce appropriate liquid water content θ liq under subzero temperature conditions and 2) neglecting the ice effect on soil-specific surface and thus matric potential via setting the empirical parameter that accounts for the effect of increase in specific surface of soil particles and ice–liquid water c k to zero. The numerical experiments performed with the Noah model run show that in comparison to the default Noah LSM, adoption of c k = 0 and site-specific b l values reduces the overestimation of θ liq across the soil profile. Implementation of augmentations such as the parameterization of diurnally varying thermal roughness length resolves the overestimation of daytime turbulent heat fluxes and underestimation of surface temperature. Further adoption of a new heat conductivity parameterization reduces the overestimation of nighttime surface temperature. An appropriate treatment of phase change efficiency that accounts for changing freezing rate with varying liquid water contents is also needed to reduce the temperature underestimation across soil profiles.

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Jun Wen, Thomas J. Jackson, Rajat Bindlish, Ann Y. Hsu, and Z. Bob Su

Abstract

The potential for soil moisture and vegetation water content retrieval using Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) brightness temperature over a corn and soybean field region was analyzed and assessed using datasets from the Soil Moisture Experiment 2002 (SMEX02). Soil moisture retrieval was performed using a dual-polarization 19.4-GHz data algorithm that requires the specification of two vegetation parameters—single scattering albedo and vegetation water content. Single scattering albedo was estimated using published values. A method for estimating the vegetation water content from the microwave polarization index using SSM/I 37.0-GHz data was developed for the region using extensive datasets developed as part of SMEX02. Analyses indicated that the sensitivity of the brightness temperature to soil moisture decreased as vegetation water content increased. However, there was evidence that SSM/I brightness temperatures changed in response to soil moisture increases resulting from rainfall during the later stages of crop growth. This was partly attributed to the lower soil and vegetation thermal temperatures that typically followed a rainfall. Comparisons between experimentally measured volumetric soil moisture and SSM/I-retrieved soil moisture indicated that soil moisture retrieval was feasible using SSM/I data, but the accuracy highly depended upon the levels of vegetation and atmospheric precipitable water; the standard error of estimate over the 3-week study period was 5.49%. The potential for using this approach on a larger scale was demonstrated by mapping the state of Iowa. Results of this investigation provide new insights on how one might operationally correct for vegetation effects using high-frequency microwave observations.

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Donghai Zheng, Rogier van der Velde, Zhongbo Su, Martin J. Booij, Arjen Y. Hoekstra, and Jun Wen
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Donghai Zheng, Rogier van der Velde, Zhongbo Su, Martijn J. Booij, Arjen Y. Hoekstra, and Jun Wen

ABSTRACT

Current land surface models still have difficulties with producing reliable surface heat fluxes and skin temperature (T sfc) estimates for high-altitude regions, which may be addressed via adequate parameterization of the roughness lengths for momentum (z 0m) and heat (z 0h) transfer. In this study, the performance of various z 0h and z 0m schemes developed for the Noah land surface model is assessed for a high-altitude site (3430 m) on the northeastern part of the Tibetan Plateau. Based on the in situ surface heat fluxes and profile measurements of wind and temperature, monthly variations of z 0m and diurnal variations of z 0h are derived through application of the Monin–Obukhov similarity theory. These derived values together with the measured heat fluxes are utilized to assess the performance of those z 0m and z 0h schemes for different seasons. The analyses show that the z 0m dynamics are related to vegetation dynamics and soil water freeze–thaw state, which are reproduced satisfactorily with current z 0m schemes. Further, it is demonstrated that the heat flux simulations are very sensitive to the diurnal variations of z 0h. The newly developed z 0h schemes all capture, at least over the sparse vegetated surfaces during the winter season, the observed diurnal variability much better than the original one. It should, however, be noted that for the dense vegetated surfaces during the spring and monsoon seasons, not all newly developed schemes perform consistently better than the original one. With the most promising schemes, the Noah simulated sensible heat flux, latent heat flux, T sfc, and soil temperature improved for the monsoon season by about 29%, 79%, 75%, and 81%, respectively. In addition, the impact of T sfc calculation and energy balance closure associated with measurement uncertainties on the above findings are discussed, and the selection of the appropriate z 0h scheme for applications is addressed.

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Donghai Zheng, Rogier van der Velde, Zhongbo Su, Xin Wang, Jun Wen, Martijn J. Booij, Arjen Y. Hoekstra, and Yingying Chen

Abstract

This is the first part of a study focusing on evaluating the performance of the Noah land surface model (LSM) in simulating surface water and energy budgets for the high-elevation source region of the Yellow River (SRYR). A comprehensive dataset is utilized that includes in situ micrometeorological and profile soil moisture and temperature measurements as well as laboratory soil property measurements of samples collected across the SRYR. Here, the simulation of soil water flow is investigated, while Part II concentrates on the surface heat flux and soil temperature simulations. Three augmentations are proposed: 1) to include the effect of organic matter on soil hydraulic parameterization via the additivity hypothesis, 2) to implement the saturated hydraulic conductivity as an exponentially decaying function with soil depth, and 3) to modify the vertical root distribution to represent the Tibetan conditions characterized by an abundance of roots in the topsoil. The diffusivity form of Richards’ equation is further revised to allow for the simulation of soil water flow across soil layers with different hydraulic properties. Usage of organic matter for calculating the porosity and soil suction improves the agreement between the estimates and laboratory measurements, and the exponential function together with the Kozeny–Carman equation best describes the in situ . Through implementation of the modified hydraulic parameterization alone, the soil moisture underestimation in the upper soil layer under wet conditions is resolved, while the soil moisture profile dynamics are better captured by also including the modified root distribution.

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Donghai Zheng, Rogier van der Velde, Zhongbo Su, Xin Wang, Jun Wen, Martijn J. Booij, Arjen Y. Hoekstra, and Yingying Chen

Abstract

This is the second part of a study on the assessment of the Noah land surface model (LSM) in simulating surface water and energy budgets in the high-elevation source region of the Yellow River. Here, there is a focus on turbulent heat fluxes and heat transport through the soil column during the monsoon season, whereas the first part of this study deals with the soil water flow. Four augmentations are studied for mitigating the overestimation of turbulent heat flux and underestimation of soil temperature measurements: 1) the muting effect of vegetation on the thermal heat conductivity is removed from the transport of heat from the first to the second soil layer, 2) the exponential decay factor imposed on is calculated using the ratio of the leaf area index (LAI) over the green vegetation fraction (GVF), 3) Zilitinkevich’s empirical coefficient for turbulent heat transport is computed as a function of the momentum roughness length , and 4) the impact of organic matter is considered in the parameterization of the thermal heat properties. Although usage of organic matter for calculating improves the correspondence between the estimates and laboratory measurements of heat conductivities, it is shown to have a relatively small impact on the Noah LSM performance even for large organic matter contents. In contrast, the removal of the muting effect of vegetation on and the parameterization of greatly enhances the soil temperature profile simulations, whereas turbulent heat flux and surface temperature computations mostly benefit from the modified formulation. Further, the nighttime surface temperature overestimation is resolved from a coupled land–atmosphere perspective.

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Li Fang, Xiwu Zhan, Jifu Yin, Jicheng Liu, Mitchell Schull, Jeffrey P. Walker, Jun Wen, Michael H. Cosh, Tarendra Lakhankar, Chandra Holifield Collins, David D. Bosch, and Patrick J. Starks

Abstract

In the past decade, a variety of algorithms have been introduced to downscale passive microwave soil moisture observations. Some exploit the soil moisture information from optical/thermal sensing of land surface temperature (LST) and vegetation dynamics while others use active microwave (radar) observations. In this study, downscaled soil moisture data at 9- or 1-km resolution from several algorithms are intercompared against in situ soil moisture measurements to determine their reliability in an operational system. The finescale satellite data used here for downscaling the coarse-scale SMAP data are observations of LST from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) and vegetation index (VI) from the NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) for the warm seasons in 2015 and 2016. Three recently developed downscaling algorithms are evaluated and compared: a simple regression algorithm based on 9-km thermal inertial data, a data mining approach called regression tree based on 9- and 1-km LST and VI, and the NASA SMAP enhanced 9-km soil moisture product algorithm. Seven sets of in situ soil moisture data from intensive networks were used for validation, including 1) the CREST-SMART network in Millbrook, New York; 2) Walnut Gulch Watershed in Arizona; 3) Little Washita Watershed in Oklahoma; 4) Fort Cobb Reservoir Experimental Watersheds in Oklahoma; 5) Little River Watershed in Georgia; 6) the Tibetan Plateau network in China, and 7) the OzNet in Australia. Soil moisture measurements of the in situ networks were upscaled to the corresponding SMAP reference pixels at 9 km and used to assess the accuracy of downscaled products at a 9-km scale. Results revealed that the downscaled 9-km soil moisture products generally outperform the 36-km product for most in situ datasets. The linear regression algorithm using the thermal sensing based evaporative stress index (ESI) had the best agreement with the in situ measurements from networks in the contiguous United States according to the site-by-site comparison. In addition, the inertial thermal linear regression method demonstrated the lowest unbiased RMSE when comparing to the matched-up in situ datasets as well. In general, this method is promising for operational generation of fine-resolution soil moisture data product.

Open access