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Christa D. Peters-Lidard and Luke H. Davis

Abstract

During the Southern Great Plains 1997 Hydrology Experiment, a tethersonde system was deployed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Cloud and Radiation Test Bed (ARM CART) central facility. Additional measurements included several surface flux stations at the central facility and radiosondes at the ARM CART central and boundary facilities. Combined, these data support an examination of regional flux estimates obtained via the atmospheric boundary layer conservation approach. Because the tethersonde was deployed successfully only under light to moderate wind conditions, the effects of advection on estimation of regional fluxes generally are found to be small. Consistent with previous studies, direct estimation of the sensible heat flux yields more accuracy than direct estimation of the latent heat flux. Use of available energy measured at surface flux stations along with the direct sensible heat flux estimates yields latent heat estimates of similar accuracy to those obtained for the sensible heat flux. It is observed that variability in the entrainment parameter exhibits a considerable diurnal cycle, presumably related to the interplay between buoyant and shear production of turbulent kinetic energy near the entrainment zone.

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Yudong Tian, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, and John B. Eylander

Abstract

A new approach to reduce biases in satellite-based estimates in real time is proposed and tested in this study. Currently satellite-based precipitation estimates exhibit considerable biases, and there have been many efforts to reduce these biases by merging surface gauge measurements with satellite-based estimates. Most of these efforts require timely availability of surface gauge measurements. The new proposed approach does not require gauge measurements in real time. Instead, the Bayesian logic is used to establish a statistical relationship between satellite estimates and gauge measurements from recent historical data. Then this relationship is applied to real-time satellite estimates when gauge data are not yet available. This new scheme is tested over the United States with six years of precipitation estimates from two real-time satellite products [i.e., the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) research product 3B42RT and the NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Morphing technique (CMORPH)] and a gauge analysis dataset [i.e., the CPC unified analysis]. The first 4-yr period was used as the training period to establish a satellite–gauge relationship, which was then applied to the last 2 yr as the correction period, during which gauge data were withheld for training but only used for evaluation. This approach showed that satellite biases were reduced by 70%–100% for the summers in the correction period. In addition, even when sparse networks with only 600 or 300 gauges were used during the training period, the biases were still reduced by 60%–80% and 47%–63%, respectively. The results also show a limitation in this approach as it tends to overadjust both light and strong events toward more intermediate rain rates.

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Sujay V. Kumar, Rolf H. Reichle, Randal D. Koster, Wade T. Crow, and Christa D. Peters-Lidard

Abstract

Root-zone soil moisture controls the land–atmosphere exchange of water and energy, and exhibits memory that may be useful for climate prediction at monthly scales. Assimilation of satellite-based surface soil moisture observations into a land surface model is an effective way to estimate large-scale root-zone soil moisture. The propagation of surface information into deeper soil layers depends on the model-specific representation of subsurface physics that is used in the assimilation system. In a suite of experiments, synthetic surface soil moisture observations are assimilated into four different models [Catchment, Mosaic, Noah, and Community Land Model (CLM)] using the ensemble Kalman filter. The authors demonstrate that identical twin experiments significantly overestimate the information that can be obtained from the assimilation of surface soil moisture observations. The second key result indicates that the potential of surface soil moisture assimilation to improve root-zone information is higher when the surface–root zone coupling is stronger. The experiments also suggest that (faced with unknown true subsurface physics) overestimating surface–root zone coupling in the assimilation system provides more robust skill improvements in the root zone compared with underestimating the coupling. When CLM is excluded from the analysis, the skill improvements from using models with different vertical coupling strengths are comparable for different subsurface truths. Last, the skill improvements through assimilation were found to be sensitive to the regional climate and soil types.

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Yudong Tian, Grey S. Nearing, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Kenneth W. Harrison, and Ling Tang

Abstract

A common set of statistical metrics has been used to summarize the performance of models or measurements—the most widely used ones being bias, mean square error, and linear correlation coefficient. They assume linear, additive, Gaussian errors, and they are interdependent, incomplete, and incapable of directly quantifying uncertainty. The authors demonstrate that these metrics can be directly derived from the parameters of the simple linear error model. Since a correct error model captures the full error information, it is argued that the specification of a parametric error model should be an alternative to the metrics-based approach. The error-modeling methodology is applicable to both linear and nonlinear errors, while the metrics are only meaningful for linear errors. In addition, the error model expresses the error structure more naturally, and directly quantifies uncertainty. This argument is further explained by highlighting the intrinsic connections between the performance metrics, the error model, and the joint distribution between the data and the reference.

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Joseph A. Santanello Jr., Sujay V. Kumar, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Ken Harrison, and Shujia Zhou

Abstract

Land–atmosphere (LA) interactions play a critical role in determining the diurnal evolution of both planetary boundary layer (PBL) and land surface heat and moisture budgets, as well as controlling feedbacks with clouds and precipitation that lead to the persistence of dry and wet regimes. In this study, the authors examine the impact of improved specification of land surface states, anomalies, and fluxes on coupled Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) forecasts during the summers of extreme dry (2006) and wet (2007) land surface conditions in the U.S. southern Great Plains. The improved land initialization and surface flux parameterizations are obtained through calibration of the Noah land surface model using the new optimization and uncertainty estimation subsystems in NASA's Land Information System (LIS-OPT/LIS-UE). The impact of the calibration on the 1) spinup of the land surface used as initial conditions and 2) the simulated heat and moisture states and fluxes of the coupled WRF simulations is then assessed. In addition, the sensitivity of this approach to the period of calibration (dry, wet, or average) is investigated. Results show that the offline calibration is successful in providing improved initial conditions and land surface physics for the coupled simulations and in turn leads to systematic improvements in land–PBL fluxes and near-surface temperature and humidity forecasts. Impacts are larger during dry regimes, but calibration during either primarily wet or dry periods leads to improvements in coupled simulations due to the reduction in land surface model bias. Overall, these results provide guidance on the questions of what, how, and when to calibrate land surface models for coupled model prediction.

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Yudong Tian, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Bhaskar J. Choudhury, and Matthew Garcia

Abstract

In this study, the recent work of Gottschalck et al. and Ebert et al. is extended by assessing the suitability of two Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM)-based precipitation products for hydrological land data assimilation applications. The two products are NASA’s gauge-corrected TRMM 3B42 Version 6 (3B42), and the satellite-only NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) morphing technique (CMORPH). The two products were evaluated against ground-based rain gauge–only and gauge-corrected Doppler radar measurements. The analyses were performed at multiple time scales, ranging from annual to diurnal, for the period March 2003 through February 2006. The analyses show that at annual or seasonal time scales, TRMM 3B42 has much lower biases and RMS errors than CMORPH. CMORPH shows season-dependent biases, with overestimation in summer and underestimation in winter. This leads to 50% higher RMS errors in CMORPH’s area-averaged daily precipitation than TRMM 3B42. At shorter time scales (5 days or less), CMORPH has slightly less uncertainty, and about 10%–20% higher probability of detection of rain events than TRMM 3B42. In addition, the satellite estimates detect more high-intensity events, causing a remarkable shift in precipitation spectrum. Summertime diurnal cycles in the United States are well captured by both products, although the 8-km CMORPH seems to capture more diurnal features than the 0.25° CMORPH or 3B42 products. CMORPH tends to overestimate the amplitude of the diurnal cycles, particularly in the central United States. Possible causes for the discrepancies between these products are discussed.

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Sujay V. Kumar, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, David Mocko, and Yudong Tian

Abstract

The downwelling shortwave radiation on the earth’s land surface is affected by the terrain characteristics of slope and aspect. These adjustments, in turn, impact the evolution of snow over such terrain. This article presents a multiscale evaluation of the impact of terrain-based adjustments to incident shortwave radiation on snow simulations over two midlatitude regions using two versions of the Noah land surface model (LSM). The evaluation is performed by comparing the snow cover simulations against the 500-m Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) snow cover product. The model simulations are evaluated using categorical measures, such as the probability of detection of “yes” events (PODy), which measure the fraction of snow cover presence that was correctly simulated, and false alarm ratio (FAR), which measures the fraction of no-snow events that was incorrectly simulated. The results indicate that the terrain-based correction of radiation leads to systematic improvements in the snow cover estimates in both domains and in both LSM versions (with roughly 12% overall improvement in PODy and 5% improvement in FAR), with larger improvements observed during snow accumulation and melt periods. Increased contribution to PODy and FAR improvements is observed over the north- and south-facing slopes, when the overall improvements are stratified to the four cardinal aspect categories. A two-dimensional discrete Haar wavelet analysis for the two study areas indicates that the PODy improvements in snow cover estimation drop to below 10% at scales coarser than 16 km, whereas the FAR improvements are below 10% at scales coarser than 4 km.

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Amin K. Dezfuli, Benjamin F. Zaitchik, Hamada S. Badr, Jason Evans, and Christa D. Peters-Lidard

Abstract

Rainfall variability in the Tigris–Euphrates headwaters is a result of interaction between topography and meteorological features at a range of spatial scales. Here, the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model, driven by the NCEP–DOE AMIP-II reanalysis (R-2), has been implemented to better understand these interactions. Simulations were performed over a domain covering most of the Middle East. The extended simulation period (1983–2013) enables us to study seasonality, interannual variability, spatial variability, and extreme events of rainfall. Results showed that the annual cycle of precipitation produced by WRF agrees much more closely with observations than does R-2. This was particularly evident during the transition months of April and October, which were further examined to study the underlying physical mechanisms. In both months, WRF improves representation of interannual variability relative to R-2, with a substantially larger benefit in April. This improvement results primarily from WRF’s ability to resolve two low-level, terrain-induced flows in the region that are either absent or weak in R-2: one parallel to the western edge of the Zagros Mountains, and one along the east Turkish highlands. The first shows a complete reversal in its direction during wet and dry days: when flowing southeasterly it transports moisture from the Persian Gulf to the region, and when flowing northwesterly it blocks moisture and transports it away from the region. The second is more directly related to synoptic-scale systems and carries moist, warm air from the Mediterranean and Red Seas toward the region. The combined contribution of these flows explains about 50% of interannual variability in both WRF and observations for April and October precipitation.

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Sujay V. Kumar, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Kristi R. Arsenault, Augusto Getirana, David Mocko, and Yuqiong Liu

Abstract

Accurate determination of snow conditions is important for several water management applications, partly because of the significant influence of snowmelt on seasonal streamflow prediction. This article examines an approach using snow cover area (SCA) observations as snow detection constraints during the assimilation of snow depth retrievals from passive microwave sensors. Two different SCA products [the Interactive Multisensor Snow and Ice Mapping System (IMS) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)] are employed jointly with the snow depth retrievals from a variety of sensors for data assimilation in the Noah land surface model. The results indicate that the use of MODIS data is effective in obtaining added improvements (up to 6% improvement in aggregate RMSE) in snow depth fields compared to assimilating passive microwave data alone, whereas the impact of IMS data is small. The improvements in snow depth fields are also found to translate to small yet systematic improvements in streamflow estimates, especially over the western United States, the upper Missouri River, and parts of the Northeast and upper Mississippi River. This study thus demonstrates a simple approach for exploiting the information from SCA observations in data assimilation.

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David M. Mocko, Sujay V. Kumar, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, and Shugong Wang

Abstract

This study presents an evaluation of the impact of vegetation conditions on a land-surface model (LSM) simulation of agricultural drought. The Noah-MP LSM is used to simulate water and energy fluxes and states, which are transformed into drought categories using percentiles over the continental U.S. from 1979 to 2017. Leaf Area Index (LAI) observations are assimilated into the dynamic vegetation scheme of Noah-MP. A weekly operational drought monitor (the U.S. Drought Monitor) is used for the evaluation. The results show that LAI assimilation into Noah-MP’s dynamic vegetation scheme improves the model's ability to represent drought, particularly over cropland areas. LAI assimilation improves the simulation of the drought category, detection of drought conditions, and reduces the instances of drought false alarms. The assimilation of LAI in these locations not only corrects model errors in the simulation of vegetation, but also can help to represent unmodeled physical processes such as irrigation towards improved simulation of agricultural drought.

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