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Paul A. Dirmeyer, Xiang Gao, Mei Zhao, Zhichang Guo, Taikan Oki, and Naota Hanasaki
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Jiangfeng Wei, Paul A. Dirmeyer, Zhichang Guo, Li Zhang, and Vasubandhu Misra

Abstract

An atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) is coupled to three different land surface schemes (LSSs), both individually and in combination (i.e., the LSSs receive the same AGCM forcing each time step and the averaged upward surface fluxes are passed back to the AGCM), to study the uncertainty of simulated climatologies and variabilities caused by different LSSs. This tiling of the LSSs is done to study the uncertainty of simulated mean climate and climate variability caused by variations between LSSs. The three LSSs produce significantly different surface fluxes over most of the land, no matter whether they are coupled individually or in combination. Although the three LSSs receive the same atmospheric forcing in the combined experiment, the inter-LSS spread of latent heat flux can be larger or smaller than the individually coupled experiment, depending mostly on the evaporation regime of the schemes in different regions. Differences in precipitation are the main reason for the different latent heat fluxes over semiarid regions, but for sensible heat flux, the atmospheric differences and LSS differences have comparable contributions. The influence of LSS uncertainties on the simulation of surface temperature is strongest in dry seasons, and its influence on daily maximum temperature is stronger than on minimum temperature. Land–atmosphere interaction can dampen the impact of LSS uncertainties on surface temperature in the tropics, but can strengthen their impact in middle to high latitudes. Variations in the persistence of surface heat fluxes exist among the LSSs, which, however, have little impact on the global pattern of precipitation persistence. The results provide guidance to future diagnosis of model uncertainties related to LSSs.

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

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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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Stefano Materia, Paul A. Dirmeyer, Zhichang Guo, Andrea Alessandri, and Antonio Navarra

Abstract

The discharge of freshwater into oceans represents a fundamental process in the global climate system, and this flux is taken into account in simulations with general circulation models (GCMs). Moreover, the availability of realistic river routing schemes is a powerful instrument to assess the validity of land surface components, which have been recognized to be crucial for the global climate simulation. In this study, surface and subsurface runoff generated by the 13 land surface schemes (LSSs) participating in the Second Global Soil Wetness Project (GSWP-2) are used as input fields for the Hydrology Discharge (HD) routing model to simulate discharge for 30 of the world’s largest rivers. The simplest land surface models do not provide a good representation of runoff, and routed river flows using these inputs are affected by many biases. On the other hand, HD shows the best simulations when forced by two of the more sophisticated schemes. The multimodel ensemble GSWP-2 generates the best phasing of the annual cycle as well as a good representation of absolute values, although the ensemble mean tends to smooth the peaks. Finally, the intermodel comparison shows the limits and deficiencies of a velocity-constant routing model such as HD, particularly in the phase of mean annual discharge.

The second part of the study assesses the sensitivity of river discharge to the variation of external meteorological forcing. The Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies version of the SSiB model is constrained with different meteorological fields and the resulting runoff is used as input for HD. River flow is most sensitive to precipitation variability, but changes in radiative forcing affect discharge as well, presumably because of the interaction with evaporation. Also, this analysis provides an estimate of the sensitivity of river discharge to precipitation variations. A few areas (e.g., central and eastern Asia, the Mediterranean, and much of the United States) show a magnified response of river discharge to a given percentage change in precipitation. Hence, an amplified effect of droughts as indicated by the consensus of climate change predictions may occur in places such as the Mediterranean. Conversely, increasing summer precipitation foreseen in places like southern and eastern Asia may amplify floods in these poor and heavily populated regions. Globally, a 1% fluctuation in precipitation forcing results in an average 2.3% change in discharge. These results can be used for the definition and assessment of new strategies for land use and water management in the near future.

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Paul A. Dirmeyer, Xiang Gao, Mei Zhao, Zhichang Guo, Taikan Oki, and Naota Hanasaki

Quantification of sources and sinks of carbon at global and regional scales requires not only a good description of the land sources and sinks of carbon, but also of the synoptic and mesoscale meteorology. An experiment was performed in Les Landes, southwest France, during May–June 2005, to determine the variability in concentration gradients and fluxes of CO2 The CarboEurope Regional Experiment Strategy (CERES; see also http://carboregional.mediasfrance.org/index) aimed to produce aggregated estimates of the carbon balance of a region that can be meaningfully compared to those obtained from the smallest downscaled information of atmospheric measurements and continental-scale inversions. We deployed several aircraft to sample the CO2 concentration and fluxes over the whole area, while fixed stations observed the fluxes and concentrations at high accuracy. Several (mesoscale) meteorological modeling tools were used to plan the experiment and flight patterns.

Results show that at regional scale the relation between profiles and fluxes is not obvious, and is strongly influenced by airmass history and mesoscale flow patterns. In particular, we show from an analysis of data for a single day that taking either the concentration at several locations as representative of local fluxes or taking the flux measurements at those sites as representative of larger regions would lead to incorrect conclusions about the distribution of sources and sinks of carbon. Joint consideration of the synoptic and regional flow, fluxes, and land surface is required for a correct interpretation. This calls for an experimental and modeling strategy that takes into account the large spatial gradients in concentrations and the variability in sources and sinks that arise from different land use types. We briefly describe how such an analysis can be performed and evaluate the usefulness of the data for planning of future networks or longer campaigns with reduced experimental efforts.

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Paul A. Dirmeyer, Sanjiv Kumar, Michael J. Fennessy, Eric L. Altshuler, Timothy DelSole, Zhichang Guo, Benjamin A. Cash, and David Straus

Abstract

The climate system model of the National Center for Atmospheric Research is used to examine the predictability arising from the land surface initialization of seasonal climate ensemble forecasts in current, preindustrial, and projected future settings. Predictability is defined in terms of the model's ability to predict its own interannual variability. Predictability from the land surface in this model is relatively weak compared to estimates from other climate models but has much of the same spatial and temporal structure found in previous studies. Several factors appear to contribute to the weakness, including a low correlation between surface fluxes and subsurface soil moisture, less soil moisture memory (lagged autocorrelation) than other models or observations, and relative insensitivity of the atmospheric boundary layer to surface flux variations. Furthermore, subseasonal cyclical behavior in plant phenology for tropical grasses introduces spurious unrealistic predictability at low latitudes during dry seasons. Despite these shortcomings, intriguing changes in predictability are found. Areas of historical land use change appear to have experienced changes in predictability, particularly where agriculture expanded dramatically into the Great Plains of North America, increasing land-driven predictability there. In a warming future climate, land–atmosphere coupling strength generally increases, but added predictability does not always follow; many other factors modulate land-driven predictability.

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Sonia I. Seneviratne, Randal D. Koster, Zhichang Guo, Paul A. Dirmeyer, Eva Kowalczyk, David Lawrence, Ping Liu, David Mocko, Cheng-Hsuan Lu, Keith W. Oleson, and Diana Verseghy

Abstract

Soil moisture memory is a key aspect of land–atmosphere interaction and has major implications for seasonal forecasting. Because of a severe lack of soil moisture observations on most continents, existing analyses of global-scale soil moisture memory have relied previously on atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) experiments, with derived conclusions that are probably model dependent. The present study is the first survey examining and contrasting global-scale (near) monthly soil moisture memory characteristics across a broad range of AGCMs. The investigated simulations, performed with eight different AGCMs, were generated as part of the Global Land–Atmosphere Coupling Experiment.

Overall, the AGCMs present relatively similar global patterns of soil moisture memory. Outliers are generally characterized by anomalous water-holding capacity or biases in radiation forcing. Water-holding capacity is highly variable among the analyzed AGCMs and is the main factor responsible for intermodel differences in soil moisture memory. Therefore, further studies on this topic should focus on the accurate characterization of this parameter for present AGCMs. Despite the range in the AGCMs’ behavior, the average soil moisture memory characteristics of the models appear realistic when compared to available in situ soil moisture observations. An analysis of the processes controlling soil moisture memory in the AGCMs demonstrates that it is mostly controlled by two effects: evaporation’s sensitivity to soil moisture, which increases with decreasing soil moisture content, and runoff’s sensitivity to soil moisture, which increases with increasing soil moisture content. Soil moisture memory is highest in regions of medium soil moisture content, where both effects are small.

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Randal D. Koster, Y. C. Sud, Zhichang Guo, Paul A. Dirmeyer, Gordon Bonan, Keith W. Oleson, Edmond Chan, Diana Verseghy, Peter Cox, Harvey Davies, Eva Kowalczyk, C. T. Gordon, Shinjiro Kanae, David Lawrence, Ping Liu, David Mocko, Cheng-Hsuan Lu, Ken Mitchell, Sergey Malyshev, Bryant McAvaney, Taikan Oki, Tomohito Yamada, Andrew Pitman, Christopher M. Taylor, Ratko Vasic, and Yongkang Xue

Abstract

The Global Land–Atmosphere Coupling Experiment (GLACE) is a model intercomparison study focusing on a typically neglected yet critical element of numerical weather and climate modeling: land–atmosphere coupling strength, or the degree to which anomalies in land surface state (e.g., soil moisture) can affect rainfall generation and other atmospheric processes. The 12 AGCM groups participating in GLACE performed a series of simple numerical experiments that allow the objective quantification of this element for boreal summer. The derived coupling strengths vary widely. Some similarity, however, is found in the spatial patterns generated by the models, with enough similarity to pinpoint multimodel “hot spots” of land–atmosphere coupling. For boreal summer, such hot spots for precipitation and temperature are found over large regions of Africa, central North America, and India; a hot spot for temperature is also found over eastern China. The design of the GLACE simulations are described in full detail so that any interested modeling group can repeat them easily and thereby place their model’s coupling strength within the broad range of those documented here.

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Zhichang Guo, Paul A. Dirmeyer, Randal D. Koster, Y. C. Sud, Gordon Bonan, Keith W. Oleson, Edmond Chan, Diana Verseghy, Peter Cox, C. T. Gordon, J. L. McGregor, Shinjiro Kanae, Eva Kowalczyk, David Lawrence, Ping Liu, David Mocko, Cheng-Hsuan Lu, Ken Mitchell, Sergey Malyshev, Bryant McAvaney, Taikan Oki, Tomohito Yamada, Andrew Pitman, Christopher M. Taylor, Ratko Vasic, and Yongkang Xue

Abstract

The 12 weather and climate models participating in the Global Land–Atmosphere Coupling Experiment (GLACE) show both a wide variation in the strength of land–atmosphere coupling and some intriguing commonalities. In this paper, the causes of variations in coupling strength—both the geographic variations within a given model and the model-to-model differences—are addressed. The ability of soil moisture to affect precipitation is examined in two stages, namely, the ability of the soil moisture to affect evaporation, and the ability of evaporation to affect precipitation. Most of the differences between the models and within a given model are found to be associated with the first stage—an evaporation rate that varies strongly and consistently with soil moisture tends to lead to a higher coupling strength. The first-stage differences reflect identifiable differences in model parameterization and model climate. Intermodel differences in the evaporation–precipitation connection, however, also play a key role.

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