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James M. Gilbert, Reed M. Maxwell, and David J. Gochis

Abstract

The boundary layer, land surface, and subsurface are important coevolving components of hydrologic systems. While previous studies have examined the connections between soil moisture, groundwater, and the atmosphere, the atmospheric response to regional water-table drawdown has received less attention. To address this question, a coupled hydrologic–atmospheric model [Parallel Flow hydrologic model (ParFlow) and WRF] was used to simulate the San Joaquin River watershed of central California. This study focuses specifically on the planetary boundary layer (PBL) in simulations with two imposed water-table configurations: a high water table mimicking natural conditions and a lowered water table reflecting historic groundwater extraction in California’s Central Valley, although effect of irrigation was not simulated. An ensemble of simulations including three boundary layer schemes and six initial conditions was performed for both water-table conditions to assess conceptual and initial condition uncertainty. Results show that increased regional water-table depth is associated with a significant increase in peak PBL height for both initial condition and boundary layer scheme conditions, although the choice of scheme interacts to affect the magnitude of peak PBL height change. Analysis of simulated land surface fluxes shows the change in PBL height can be attributed to decreasing midday evaporative fraction under lowered water-table conditions. Furthermore, the sensitivity of PBL height to changes in water-table depth appears to depend on local water-table variation within 10 m of the land surface and the regional average water-table depth. Finally, soil moisture changes associated with lowered water tables are linked to changes in PBL circulation as indicated by vertical winds and turbulence kinetic energy.

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David J. Gochis, W. James Shuttleworth, and Zong-Liang Yang

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This paper describes the second part of a study to document the sensitivity of the modeled regional moisture flux patterns and hydrometeorological response of the North American monsoon system (NAMS) to convective parameterization. Use of the convective parameterization schemes of Betts–Miller–Janjic, Kain–Fritsch, and Grell was investigated during the initial phase of the 1999 NAMS using version 3.4 of the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research (PSU–NCAR) Mesoscale Model (MM5) running in a pseudoclimate mode. Substantial differences in both the stationary and transient components of the moisture flux fields were found between the simulations, resulting in differences in moisture convergence patterns, precipitation, and surface evapotranspiration. Basin-average calculations of hydrologic variables indicate that, in most of the basins for which calculations were made, the magnitude of the evaporation-minus-precipitation moisture source/sink differs substantially between simulations and, in some cases, even the sign of the source/sink changed. There are substantial differences in rainfall–runoff processes because the basin-average rainfall intensities, proportion of rainfall from convective origin, and the runoff coefficients differ between simulations. The results indicate that, in regions of sustained, deep convection, the selection of the subgrid convective parameterization in a high-resolution atmospheric model can potentially have a hydrometeorological impact in regional analyses, which is at least as important as the effect of land surface forcing.

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Huancui Hu, Francina Dominguez, Praveen Kumar, Jeffery McDonnell, and David Gochis

Abstract

We develop and implement a novel numerical water tracer model within the Noah LSM with multiparameterization options (WT-Noah-MP) that is specifically designed to track individual hydrometeorological events. This approach provides a more complete representation of the physical processes beyond the standard land surface model output. Unlike isotope-enabled LSMs, WT-Noah-MP does not simulate the concentration of oxygen or hydrogen isotopes, or require isotope information to drive it. WT-Noah-MP provides stores, fluxes, and transit time estimates of tagged water in the surface–subsurface system. The new tracer tool can account for the horizontal and vertical heterogeneity of tracer transport in the subsurface by allowing partial mixing in each soil layer. We compared model-estimated transit times at the H. J. Andrews Experimental Watershed in Oregon with those derived from isotope observations. Our results show that including partial mixing in the soil results in a more realistic transit time distribution than the basic well-mixed assumption. We then used WT-Noah-MP to investigate the regional response to an extreme precipitation event in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The model differentiated the flood response due to direct precipitation from indirect thermal effects and showed that a large portion of this event water was retained in the soil after 6 months. The water tracer addition in Noah-MP can help us quantify the long-term memory in the hydrologic system that can impact seasonal hydroclimate variability through evapotranspiration and groundwater recharge.

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Enrique R. Vivoni, Kinwai Tai, and David J. Gochis

Abstract

Through the use of a mesoscale meteorological model and distributed hydrologic model, the effects of initial soil moisture on rainfall generation, streamflow, and evapotranspiration during the North American monsoon are examined. A collection of atmospheric fields is simulated by varying initial soil moisture in the meteorological model. Analysis of the simulated rainfall fields shows that the total rainfall, intensity, and spatial coverage increase with higher soil moisture. Hydrologic simulations forced by the meteorological fields are performed using two scenarios: (i) fixed soil moisture initializations obtained via a drainage experiment in the hydrologic model and (ii) adjusted initializations to match conditions in the two models. The scenarios indicate that the runoff ratio increases with higher rainfall, although a change is observed from a linear (fixed initialization) to a nonlinear response (adjusted initialization). Variations in basin response are attributed to controls exerted by rainfall, soil, and vegetation properties for varying initial conditions. Antecedent wetness significantly influences the runoff response through the interplay of different runoff generation mechanisms and also controls the evapotranspiration process. The authors conclude that a regional increase in initial soil moisture promotes rainfall generation, streamflow, and evapotranspiration for this warm-season case study.

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Stephen W. Nesbitt, David J. Gochis, and Timothy J. Lang

Abstract

This study examines the spatial and temporal variability in the diurnal cycle of clouds and precipitation tied to topography within the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) tier-I domain during the 2004 NAME enhanced observing period (EOP, July–August), with a focus on the implications for high-resolution precipitation estimation within the core of the monsoon. Ground-based precipitation retrievals from the NAME Event Rain Gauge Network (NERN) and Colorado State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research (CSU–NCAR) version 2 radar composites over the southern NAME tier-I domain are compared with satellite rainfall estimates from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center Morphing technique (CMORPH) and Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information Using Artificial Neural Networks (PERSIANN) operational and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) 3B42 research satellite estimates along the western slopes of the Sierra Madre Occidental (SMO). The rainfall estimates are examined alongside hourly images of high-resolution Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) 11-μm brightness temperatures.

An abrupt shallow to deep convective transition is found over the SMO, with the development of shallow convective systems just before noon on average over the SMO high peaks, with deep convection not developing until after 1500 local time on the SMO western slopes. This transition is shown to be contemporaneous with a relative underestimation (overestimation) of precipitation during the period of shallow (deep) convection from both IR and microwave precipitation algorithms due to changes in the depth and vigor of shallow clouds and mixed-phase cloud depths. This characteristic life cycle in cloud structure and microphysics has important implications for ice-scattering microwave and infrared precipitation estimates, and thus hydrological applications using high-resolution precipitation data, as well as the study of the dynamics of convective systems in complex terrain.

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Timothy M. Lahmers, Hoshin Gupta, Christopher L. Castro, David J. Gochis, David Yates, Aubrey Dugger, David Goodrich, and Pieter Hazenberg

Abstract

In August 2016, the National Weather Service Office of Water Prediction (NWS/OWP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) implemented the operational National Water Model (NWM) to simulate and forecast streamflow, soil moisture, and other model states throughout the contiguous United States. Based on the architecture of the WRF-Hydro hydrologic model, the NWM does not currently resolve channel infiltration, an important component of the water balance of the semiarid western United States. Here, we demonstrate the benefit of implementing a conceptual channel infiltration function (from the KINEROS2 semidistributed hydrologic model) into the WRF-Hydro model architecture, configured as NWM v1.1. After calibration, the updated WRF-Hydro model exhibits reduced streamflow errors for the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed (WGEW) and the Babocomari River in southeast Arizona. Model calibration was performed using NLDAS-2 atmospheric forcing, available from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), paired with precipitation forcing from NLDAS-2, NCEP Stage IV, or local gauge precipitation. Including channel infiltration within WRF-Hydro results in a physically realistic hydrologic response in the WGEW, when the model is forced with high-resolution, gauge-based precipitation in lieu of a national product. The value of accounting for channel loss is also demonstrated in the Babocomari basin, where the drainage area is greater and the cumulative effect of channel infiltration is more important. Accounting for channel infiltration loss thus improves the streamflow behavior simulated by the calibrated model and reduces evapotranspiration bias when gauge precipitation is used as forcing. However, calibration also results in increased high soil moisture bias, which is likely due to underlying limitations of the NWM structure and calibration methodology.

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Yang Hong, David Gochis, Jiang-tao Cheng, Kuo-lin Hsu, and Soroosh Sorooshian

Abstract

Robust validation of the space–time structure of remotely sensed precipitation estimates is critical to improving their quality and confident application in water cycle–related research. In this work, the performance of the Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information using Artificial Neural Networks-Cloud Classification System (PERSIANN-CCS) precipitation product is evaluated against warm season precipitation observations from the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) Event Rain Gauge Network (NERN) in the complex terrain region of northwestern Mexico. Analyses of hourly and daily precipitation estimates show that the PERSIANN-CCS captures well active and break periods in the early and mature phases of the monsoon season. While the PERSIANN-CCS generally captures the spatial distribution and timing of diurnal convective rainfall, elevation-dependent biases exist, which are characterized by an underestimate in the occurrence of light precipitation at high elevations and an overestimate in the occurrence of precipitation at low elevations. The elevation-dependent biases contribute to a 1–2-h phase shift of the diurnal cycle of precipitation at various elevation bands. For reasons yet to be determined, the PERSIANN-CCS significantly underestimated a few active periods of precipitation during the late or “senescent” phase of the monsoon. Despite these shortcomings, the continuous domain and relatively high spatial resolution of PERSIANN-CCS quantitative precipitation estimates (QPEs) provide useful characterization of precipitation space–time structures in the North American monsoon region of northwestern Mexico, which should prove useful for hydrological applications.

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David J. Gochis, Juan-Carlos Leal, W. James Shuttleworth, Christopher J. Watts, and Jaime Garatuza-Payan

Abstract

The purpose of this note is to present preliminary findings from a new event-based surface rain gauge network in the region of northwest Mexico. This region is characterized as semiarid, owing the largest percentage of its annual rainfall to summer convective systems, which are diurnal in nature. Although the existing surface network and satellite-derived precipitation products have clarified some features of convective activity over the core region of the North American monsoon (NAM), a detailed examination of the spatial and temporal structure of such activity has been prohibited by the lack of a surface observation network with adequate temporal and spatial resolution. Specifically, the current network of sparsely spaced climate stations has inhibited a detailed diagnosis of the timing, intensity, and duration of convective rainfall in general, and of the topography–rainfall relationship in particular. In this note, a brief overview of the network and present preliminary analyses from the first monitoring season, summer 2002, is provided. It is shown that the diurnal cycle of precipitation varies with elevation in a way that is consistent with a hypothesis that convective events organize and, occasionally, propagate from high terrain onto lower-elevation plains, but more conclusive statements will require expansion of the network and increased record length. It is also emphasized from these studies that it is essential to evaluate wet-day statistics or rainfall intensities from precipitating periods in parallel, with comparable all-day statistics, when conducting hydrometeorological analyses in semiarid convective regimes where precipitation is infrequent and highly localized.

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Katja Friedrich, Evan A. Kalina, Joshua Aikins, David Gochis, and Roy Rasmussen

Abstract

Radar and disdrometer observations collected during the 2013 Great Colorado Flood are used to diagnose the spatial and vertical structure of clouds and precipitation during episodes of intense rainfall. The analysis focuses on 30 h of intense rainfall in the vicinity of Boulder, Colorado, during 2200–0400 UTC 11–13 September. The strongest rainfall occurred along lower parts of the Colorado Front Range at >1.6 km MSL and on the northern side of the Palmer Divide. The vertical structure of clouds and horizontal distribution of rainfall are strongly linked to upslope flow and low-level forcing, which resulted in surface convergence. During times of weak forcing, shallow convection produced rain at and below the melting layer through collision–coalescence and, to a lesser extent, riming. A mesoscale circulation interacting with the local terrain produced convective rainfall with high cloud tops that favored ice crystal production. During moderate forcing with cloud tops slightly exceeding the 0°C level, both cold- and warm-phase microphysical processes dominated. Less rain with weaker rainfall rates was observed over the higher-elevation stations compared to the lower-elevation stations across the foothills.

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Enrique Rosero, Zong-Liang Yang, Lindsey E. Gulden, Guo-Yue Niu, and David J. Gochis

Abstract

The authors introduce and compare the performance of the unified Noah land surface model (LSM) and its augments with physically based, more conceptually realistic hydrologic parameterizations. Forty-five days of 30-min data collected over nine sites in transition zones are used to evaluate (i) their benchmark, the standard Noah LSM release 2.7 (STD); (ii) a version equipped with a short-term phenology module (DV); and (iii) one that couples a lumped, unconfined aquifer model to the model soil column (GW). Their model intercomparison, enhanced by multiobjective calibration and model sensitivity analysis, shows that, under the evaluation conditions, the current set of enhancements to Noah fails to yield significant improvement in the accuracy of simulated, high-frequency, warm-season turbulent fluxes, and near-surface states across these sites. Qualitatively, the versions of DV and GW implemented degrade model robustness, as defined by the sensitivity of model performance to uncertain parameters. Quantitatively, calibrated DV and GW show only slight improvement in the skill of the model over calibrated STD. Then, multiple model realizations are compared to explicitly account for parameter uncertainty. Model performance, robustness, and fitness are quantified for use across varied sites. The authors show that the least complex benchmark LSM (STD) remains as the most fit version of the model for broad application. Although GW typically performs best when simulating evaporative fraction (EF), 24-h change in soil wetness (ΔW 30), and soil wetness, it is only about half as robust as STD, which also performs relatively well for all three criteria. GW’s superior performance results from bias correction, not from improved soil moisture dynamics. DV performs better than STD in simulating EF and ΔW 30 at the wettest site, because DV tends to enhance transpiration and canopy evaporation at the expense of direct soil evaporation. This same model structure limits performance at the driest site, where STD performs best. This dichotomous performance suggests that the formulations that determine the partitioning of LE flux need to be modified for broader applicability. Thus, this work poses a caveat for simple “plug and play” of functional modules between LSMs and showcases the utility of rigorous testing during model development.

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