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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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Joseph A. Santanello Jr., Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Sujay V. Kumar, Charles Alonge, and Wei-Kuo Tao

Abstract

Land–atmosphere interactions play a critical role in determining the diurnal evolution of both planetary boundary layer (PBL) and land surface temperature and moisture states. The degree of coupling between the land surface and PBL in numerical weather prediction and climate models remains largely unexplored and undiagnosed because of the complex interactions and feedbacks present across a range of scales. Furthermore, uncoupled systems or experiments [e.g., the Project for the Intercomparison of Land-Surface Parameterization Schemes (PILPS)] may lead to inaccurate water and energy cycle process understanding by neglecting feedback processes such as PBL-top entrainment. In this study, a framework for diagnosing local land–atmosphere coupling is presented using a coupled mesoscale model with a suite of PBL and land surface model (LSM) options along with observations during field experiments in the U.S. Southern Great Plains. Specifically, the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) has been coupled to the Land Information System (LIS), which provides a flexible and high-resolution representation and initialization of land surface physics and states. Within this framework, the coupling established by each pairing of the available PBL schemes in WRF with the LSMs in LIS is evaluated in terms of the diurnal temperature and humidity evolution in the mixed layer. The coevolution of these variables and the convective PBL are sensitive to and, in fact, integrative of the dominant processes that govern the PBL budget, which are synthesized through the use of mixing diagrams. Results show how the sensitivity of land–atmosphere interactions to the specific choice of PBL scheme and LSM varies across surface moisture regimes and can be quantified and evaluated against observations. As such, this methodology provides a potential pathway to study factors controlling local land–atmosphere coupling (LoCo) using the LIS–WRF system, which will serve as a test bed for future experiments to evaluate coupling diagnostics within the community.

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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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Yudong Tian, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Robert F. Adler, Takuji Kubota, and Tomoo Ushio

Abstract

Precipitation estimates from the Global Satellite Mapping of Precipitation (GSMaP) project are evaluated over the contiguous United States (CONUS) for the period of 2005–06. GSMaP combines precipitation retrievals from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite and other polar-orbiting satellites, and interpolates them with cloud motion vectors derived from infrared images from geostationary satellites, to produce a high-resolution dataset. Four other satellite-based datasets are also evaluated concurrently with GSMaP, to provide a better perspective. The new Climate Prediction Center (CPC) unified gauge analysis is used as the reference data. The evaluation shows that GSMaP does well in capturing the spatial patterns of precipitation, especially for summer, and that it has better estimation of precipitation amount over the eastern than over the western CONUS. Meanwhile, GSMaP shares many of the challenges common to other satellite-based products, including that it underestimates in winter and overestimates in summer. In winter, GSMaP has on average one-half less precipitation over the western region and one-third less over the eastern region, whereas in summer it has about three-quarters and one-quarter more estimated precipitation over the two respective regions, respectively. Most of the summer overestimates (winter underestimates) are from an excessive (insufficient) number of strong events (>20 mm day−1). Overall, GSMaP’s performance is comparable to other satellite-based products, with slightly better probability of detection during summer, and the different satellite-based estimates as a group have better agreement among themselves during summer than during winter.

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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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Jonathan L. Case, William L. Crosson, Sujay V. Kumar, William M. Lapenta, and Christa D. Peters-Lidard

Abstract

This manuscript presents an assessment of daily regional simulations of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) numerical weather prediction (NWP) model initialized with high-resolution land surface data from the NASA Land Information System (LIS) software versus a control WRF configuration that uses land surface data from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Eta Model. The goal of this study is to investigate the potential benefits of using the LIS software to improve land surface initialization for regional NWP. Fifty-eight individual nested simulations were integrated for 24 h for both the control and experimental (LISWRF) configurations during May 2004 over Florida and the surrounding areas: 29 initialized at 0000 UTC and 29 initialized at 1200 UTC. The land surface initial conditions for the LISWRF runs came from an offline integration of the Noah land surface model (LSM) within LIS for two years prior to the beginning of the month-long study on an identical grid domain to the subsequent WRF simulations. Atmospheric variables used to force the offline Noah LSM integration were provided by the North American Land Data Assimilation System and Global Data Assimilation System gridded analyses.

The LISWRF soil states were generally cooler and drier than the NCEP Eta Model soil states during May 2004. Comparisons between the control and LISWRF runs for one event suggested that the LIS land surface initial conditions led to an improvement in the timing and evolution of a sea-breeze circulation over portions of northwestern Florida. Surface verification statistics for the entire month indicated that the LISWRF runs produced a more enhanced and accurate diurnal range in 2-m temperatures compared to the control as a result of the overall drier initial soil states, which resulted from a reduction in the nocturnal warm bias in conjunction with a reduction in the daytime cold bias. Daytime LISWRF 2-m dewpoints were correspondingly drier than the control dewpoints, again a manifestation of the drier initial soil states in LISWRF. The positive results of the LISWRF experiments help to illustrate the importance of initializing regional NWP models with high-quality land surface data generated at the same grid resolution.

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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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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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