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Joseph G. Alfieri, Dev Niyogi, Peter D. Blanken, Fei Chen, Margaret A. LeMone, Kenneth E. Mitchell, Michael B. Ek, and Anil Kumar


Vegetated surfaces, such as grasslands and croplands, constitute a significant portion of the earth’s surface and play an important role in land–atmosphere exchange processes. This study focuses on one important parameter used in describing the exchange of moisture from vegetated surfaces: the minimum canopy resistance (r cmin). This parameter is used in the Jarvis canopy resistance scheme that is incorporated into the Noah and many other land surface models. By using an inverted form of the Jarvis scheme, r cmin is determined from observational data collected during the 2002 International H2O Project (IHOP_2002). The results indicate that r cmin is highly variable both site to site and over diurnal and longer time scales. The mean value at the grassland sites in this study is 96 s m−1 while the mean value for the cropland (winter wheat) sites is one-fourth that value at 24 s m−1. The mean r cmin for all the sites is 72 s m−1 with a standard deviation of 39 s m−1. This variability is due to both the empirical nature of the Jarvis scheme and a combination of changing environmental conditions, such as plant physiology and plant species composition, that are not explicitly considered by the scheme. This variability in r cmin has important implications for land surface modeling where r cmin is often parameterized as a constant. For example, the Noah land surface model parameterizes r cmin for the grasslands and croplands types in this study as 40 s m−1. Tests with the coupled Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF)–Noah model indicate that the using the modified values of r cmin from this study improves the estimates of latent heat flux; the difference between the observed and modeled moisture flux decreased by 50% or more. While land surface models that estimate transpiration using Jarvis-type relationships may be improved by revising the r cmin values for grasslands and croplands, updating the r cmin will not fully account for the variability in r cmin observed in this study. As such, it may be necessary to replace the Jarvis scheme currently used in many land surface and numerical weather prediction models with a physiologically based estimate of the canopy resistance.

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