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  • Author or Editor: Michael Barlage x
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Michael Barlage
and
Xubin Zeng

Abstract

Accurate modeling of surface processes requires a specification of the amount of land covered by vegetation. The National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Land Model (CLM2) does not realistically represent sparsely vegetated regions because of a lack of bare soil in the model. In this study, the existing CLM2 surface dataset is replaced by a global 1-km fractional vegetation cover dataset. This results in a doubling of global bare soil fraction in the model. It also significantly affects the fractional coverages of shrub, grass, and crop compared with only minor changes to trees. Regional changes occur most greatly in Australia, with an increase of over 0.4 in bare soil fraction. The western United States, southern South America, and southern Africa show fractional increases of more than 0.2. Simulations of CLM2 coupled with the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM2) show several regions with statistically significant decreases of up to 2 K in 2-m air temperature and up to 10 K in ground temperature, which reduces the high temperature bias in arid and semiarid regions in the model. In Australia, the vegetation changes result in an increase in net downward longwave radiation, which is balanced by an increase of latent and sensible heat fluxes and a decrease of absorbed solar radiation.

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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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Wen-Ying Wu
,
Zong-Liang Yang
, and
Michael Barlage

Abstract

Texas is subject to severe droughts, including the record-breaking one in 2011. To investigate the critical hydrometeorological processes during drought, we use a land surface model, Noah-MP, to simulate water availability and investigate the causes of the record drought. We conduct a series of experiments with runoff schemes, vegetation phenology, and plant rooting depth. Observation-based terrestrial water storage, evapotranspiration, runoff, and leaf area index are used to compare with results from the model. Overall, the results suggest that using different parameterizations can influence the modeled water availability, especially during drought. The drought-induced vegetation responses not only interact with water availability but also affect the ground temperature. Our evaluation shows that Noah-MP with a groundwater scheme produces a better temporal relationship in terrestrial water storage compared with observations. Leaf area index from dynamic vegetation is better simulated in wet years than dry years. Reduction of positive biases in runoff and reduction of negative biases in evapotranspiration are found in simulations with groundwater, dynamic vegetation, and deeper rooting zone depth. Multiparameterization experiments show the uncertainties of drought monitoring and provide a mechanistic understanding of disparities in dry anomalies.

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Guo Zhang
,
Guangsheng Zhou
,
Fei Chen
,
Michael Barlage
, and
Lulin Xue

Abstract

It is still a daunting challenge for land surface models (LSMs) to correctly represent surface heat exchange for water-limited desert steppe ecosystems. This study aims to improve the ability of the Noah LSM to simulate surface heat fluxes through addressing uncertainties in precipitation forcing conditions, rapidly evolving vegetation properties, soil hydraulic properties (SHPs), and key parameterization schemes. Three years (2008–10) of observed surface heat fluxes and soil temperature over a desert steppe site in Inner Mongolia, China, are used to verify model simulations. The proper seasonal distribution of precipitation, along with more realistic vegetation parameters, can improve the simulation of sensible heat flux (SH) and the seasonal variability of latent heat flux. Correctly representing the low-surface exchange coefficient is crucial for improving SH for short vegetation like this desert steppe site. Relating C zil, the coefficient in the Noah surface exchange coefficient calculation, with canopy height h improves the simulated SH and the diurnal range of soil temperature over the simulation compared with using the default constant C zil. The exponential water stress formulation proposed here for the Jarvis scheme improves the partitioning between soil evaporation and transpiration. It is found that the surface energy fluxes are very sensitive to SHPs. This study highlights the important role of the proper parameter values and appropriate parameterizations for the surface exchange coefficient and water stress function in canopy resistance in capturing the observed surface energy fluxes and soil temperature variations for this desert steppe site.

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Shu-Wen Zhang
,
Xubin Zeng
,
Weidong Zhang
, and
Michael Barlage

Abstract

Previous studies have demonstrated that soil moisture in the top layers (e.g., within the top 1-m depth) can be retrieved by assimilating near-surface soil moisture observations into a land surface model using ensemble-based data assimilation algorithms. However, it remains a challenging issue to provide good estimates of soil moisture in the deep layers, because the error correlation between the surface and deep layers is low and hence is easily influenced by the physically limited range of soil moisture, probably resulting in a large noise-to-signal ratio. Furthermore, the temporally correlated errors between the surface and deep layers and the nonlinearity of the system make the retrieval even more difficult. To tackle these problems, a revised ensemble-based Kalman filter covariance method is proposed by constraining error covariance estimates in deep layers in two ways: 1) explicitly using the error covariance at the previous time step and 2) limiting the increase of the soil moisture error correlation with the increase of the vertical distance between the two layers. This method is then tested at three separate point locations representing different precipitation regimes. It is found that the proposed method can effectively control the abrupt changes of error covariance estimates between the surface layer and two deep layers. It significantly improves the estimates of soil moisture in the two deep layers with daily updating. For example, relative to the initial background error, after 150 daily updates, the error in the deepest layer reduces to 11.4%, 32.3%, and 27.1% at the wet, dry, and medium wetness locations, only reducing to 62.3%, 80.8%, and 47.5% with the original method, respectively. However, the improvement of deep-layer soil moisture retrieval is very slight when the updating frequency is reduced to once every three days.

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Yingsha Jiang
,
Fei Chen
,
Yanhong Gao
,
Michael Barlage
, and
Jianduo Li

Abstract

Snow cover in the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau (QTP) is a critical component in the water cycle and regional climate of East Asia. Fractional snow cover (FSC) derived from five satellite sources [the three satellites comprising the multisensor synergy of FengYun-3 (FY-3A/B/C), the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), and the Interactive Multisensor Snow and Ice Mapping System (IMS)] were intercompared over the QTP to examine uncertainties in mean snow cover and interannual variability over the last decade. A four-step cloud removal procedure was developed for MODIS and FY-3 data, which effectively reduced the cloud percentage from about 40% to 2%–3% with an error of about 2% estimated by a random sampling method. Compared to in situ snow-depth observations, the cloud-removed FY-3B data have an annual classification accuracy of about 94% for both 0.04° and 0.01° resolutions, which is higher than other datasets and is recommended for use in QTP studies. Among the five datasets analyzed, IMS has the largest snow extent (22% higher than MODIS) and the highest FSC (4.7% higher than MODIS), while the morning-overpass MODIS and FY-3A/C FSC are similar and are around 5% higher than the afternoon-overpass FY-3B FSC. Contrary to MODIS, IMS shows increasing variability in snow cover and snow duration over the last decade (2006–17). Differences in variabilities of FSC and snow duration between products are greater at 5–6 km than lower elevations, with seasonal snow-cover change showing the largest uncertainty in snowmelt date.

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Nicholas Dawson
,
Patrick Broxton
,
Xubin Zeng
,
Michael Leuthold
,
Michael Barlage
, and
Pat Holbrook

Abstract

Snow plays a major role in land–atmosphere interactions, but strong spatial heterogeneity in snow depth (SD) and snow water equivalent (SWE) makes it challenging to evaluate gridded snow quantities using in situ measurements. First, a new method is developed to upscale point measurements into gridded datasets that is superior to other tested methods. It is then utilized to generate daily SD and SWE datasets for water years 2012–14 using measurements from two networks (COOP and SNOTEL) in the United States. These datasets are used to evaluate daily SD and SWE initializations in NCEP global forecasting models (GFS and CFSv2, both on 0.5° × 0.5° grids) and regional models (NAM on 12 km × 12 km grids and RAP on 13 km × 13 km grids) across eight 2° × 2° boxes. Initialized SD from three models (GFS, CFSv2, and NAM) that utilize Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) SD data for initialization is 77% below the area-averaged values, on average. RAP initializations, which cycle snow instead of using the AFWA SD, underestimate SD to a lesser degree. Compared with SD errors, SWE errors from GFS, CFSv2, and NAM are larger because of the application of unrealistically low and globally constant snow densities. Furthermore, the widely used daily gridded SD data produced by the Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC) are also found to underestimate SD (similar to GFS, CFSv2, and NAM), but are worse than RAP. These results suggest an urgent need to improve SD and SWE initializations in these operational models.

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Lu Su
,
Qian Cao
,
Mu Xiao
,
David M. Mocko
,
Michael Barlage
,
Dongyue Li
,
Christa D. Peters-Lidard
, and
Dennis P. Lettenmaier

Abstract

We examine the drought variability over the conterminous United States (CONUS) for 1915–2018 using the Noah-MP land surface model. We examine different model options on drought reconstruction, including optional representation of groundwater and dynamic vegetation phenology. Over our 104-yr reconstruction period, we identify 12 great droughts that each covered at least 36% of CONUS and lasted for at least 5 months. The great droughts tend to have smaller areas when groundwater and/or dynamic vegetation are included in the model configuration. We detect a small decreasing trend in dry area coverage over CONUS in all configurations. We identify 45 major droughts in the baseline (with a dry area coverage greater than 23.6% of CONUS) that are, on average, somewhat less severe than great droughts. We find that representation of groundwater tends to increase drought duration for both great and major droughts, primarily by leading to earlier drought onset (some due to short-lived recovery from a previous drought) or later demise (groundwater anomalies lag precipitation anomalies). In contrast, representation of dynamic vegetation tends to shorten major droughts duration, primarily due to earlier drought demise (closed stoma or dead vegetation reduces ET loss during droughts). On a regional basis, the U.S. Southwest (Southeast) has the longest (shortest) major drought durations. Consistent with earlier work, dry area coverage in all subregions except the Southwest has decreased. The effects of groundwater and dynamic vegetation vary regionally due to differences in groundwater depths (hence connectivity with the surface) and vegetation types.

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Fei Chen
,
Guo Zhang
,
Michael Barlage
,
Ying Zhang
,
Jeffrey A. Hicke
,
Arjan Meddens
,
Guangsheng Zhou
,
William J. Massman
, and
John Frank

Abstract

Bark beetle outbreaks have killed billions of trees and affected millions of hectares of forest during recent decades. The objective of this study was to quantify responses of surface energy and hydrologic fluxes 2–3 yr following a spruce beetle outbreak using measurements and modeling. The authors used observations at the Rocky Mountains Glacier Lakes Ecosystem Experiments Site (GLEES), where beetles killed 85% of the basal area of spruce from 2005–07 (prebeetle) to 2009/10 (postbeetle). Observations showed increased albedo following tree mortality, more reflected solar radiation, and less net radiation, but these postoutbreak radiation changes are smaller than or comparable to their annual preoutbreak variability. The dominant signals from observations were a large reduction (27%) in summer daytime evaporation and a large increase (25%) in sensible heat fluxes. Numerous Noah LSM with multiparameterization options (Noah-MP) simulations incorporating beetle-caused tree mortality effects were conducted to assess their impact on the surface hydrological cycle components that were not directly observed. Model results revealed substantial seasonal variations: more spring snowmelt and runoff, less spring–summer transpiration, and drier soil in summer and fall. This modeled trend is similar to observed runoff changes in harvested forests where reduced forest density resulted in more spring snowmelt and annual water yields. Model results showed that snow albedo changes due to increased litter cover beneath killed trees altered the seasonal pattern of simulated snowmelt and snow water equivalent, but these changes are small compared to the effect of leaf loss. This study highlights the need to include the transient effects of forest disturbances in modeling land–atmosphere interactions and their potential impacts on regional weather and climate.

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Pablo A. Mendoza
,
Martyn P. Clark
,
Naoki Mizukami
,
Andrew J. Newman
,
Michael Barlage
,
Ethan D. Gutmann
,
Roy M. Rasmussen
,
Balaji Rajagopalan
,
Levi D. Brekke
, and
Jeffrey R. Arnold

Abstract

The assessment of climate change impacts on water resources involves several methodological decisions, including choices of global climate models (GCMs), emission scenarios, downscaling techniques, and hydrologic modeling approaches. Among these, hydrologic model structure selection and parameter calibration are particularly relevant and usually have a strong subjective component. The goal of this research is to improve understanding of the role of these decisions on the assessment of the effects of climate change on hydrologic processes. The study is conducted in three basins located in the Colorado headwaters region, using four different hydrologic model structures [PRMS, VIC, Noah LSM, and Noah LSM with multiparameterization options (Noah-MP)]. To better understand the role of parameter estimation, model performance and projected hydrologic changes (i.e., changes in the hydrology obtained from hydrologic models due to climate change) are compared before and after calibration with the University of Arizona shuffled complex evolution (SCE-UA) algorithm. Hydrologic changes are examined via a climate change scenario where the Community Climate System Model (CCSM) change signal is used to perturb the boundary conditions of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model configured at 4-km resolution. Substantial intermodel differences (i.e., discrepancies between hydrologic models) in the portrayal of climate change impacts on water resources are demonstrated. Specifically, intermodel differences are larger than the mean signal from the CCSM–WRF climate scenario examined, even after the calibration process. Importantly, traditional single-objective calibration techniques aimed to reduce errors in runoff simulations do not necessarily improve intermodel agreement (i.e., same outputs from different hydrologic models) in projected changes of some hydrological processes such as evapotranspiration or snowpack.

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