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J. S. Kimball, K. C. McDonald, and M. Zhao

Abstract

Global satellite remote sensing records show evidence of recent vegetation greening and an advancing growing season at high latitudes. Satellite remote sensing–derived measures of photosynthetic leaf area index (LAI) and vegetation gross and net primary productivity (GPP and NPP) from the NOAA Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) Pathfinder record are utilized to assess annual variability in vegetation productivity for Alaska and northwest Canada in association with the Western Arctic Linkage Experiment (WALE). These results are compared with satellite microwave remote sensing measurements of springtime thaw from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I). The SSM/I-derived timing of the primary springtime thaw event was well correlated with annual anomalies in maximum LAI in spring and summer (P ≤ 0.009; n = 13), and GPP and NPP (P ≤ 0.0002) for the region. Mean annual variability in springtime thaw was on the order of ±7 days, with corresponding impacts to annual productivity of approximately 1% day−1. Years with relatively early seasonal thawing showed generally greater LAI and annual productivity, while years with delayed seasonal thawing showed corresponding reductions in canopy cover and productivity. The apparent sensitivity of LAI and vegetation productivity to springtime thaw indicates that a recent advance in the seasonal thaw cycle and associated lengthening of the potential period of photosynthesis in spring is sufficient to account for the sign and magnitude of an estimated positive vegetation productivity trend for the western Arctic from 1982 to 2000.

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S. B. Idso, R. D. Jackson, R. J. Reginato, B. A. Kimball, and F. S. Nakayama

Abstract

Simple albedo measurement may prove useful for sensing surface soil water content and as a research tool in the study of evaporation of water from soil. Intensive concurrent measurements of the albedo and soil water content of a drying bare soil indicate that albedo, normalized for sun zenith angle effects, is a linear function of the soil water content of a very thin surface layer (less than 0.2 cm thick) over a sizeable volumetric water content range (0.00 to 0.18 for an Avondale loam). Albedo is also well correlated with the average soil water content of greater soil thicknesses. Measurements to a depth of 10 cm indicate that the relation is relatively independent of season.

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M. Rodell, B. F. Chao, A. Y. Au, J. S. Kimball, and K. C. McDonald

Abstract

Redistribution of mass near Earth’s surface alters its rotation, gravity field, and geocenter location. Advanced techniques for measuring these geodetic variations now exist, but the ability to attribute the observed modes to individual Earth system processes has been hampered by a shortage of reliable global data on such processes, especially hydrospheric processes. To address one aspect of this deficiency, 17 yr of monthly, global maps of vegetation biomass were produced by applying field-based relationships to satellite-derived vegetation type and leaf area index. The seasonal variability of biomass was estimated to be as large as 5 kg m−2. Of this amount, approximately 4 kg m−2 is due to vegetation water storage variations. The time series of maps was used to compute geodetic anomalies, which were then compared with existing geodetic observations as well as the estimated measurement sensitivity of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE). For gravity, the seasonal amplitude of biomass variations may be just within GRACE’s limits of detectability, but it is still an order of magnitude smaller than current observation uncertainty using the satellite-laser-ranging technique. The contribution of total biomass variations to seasonal polar motion amplitude is detectable in today’s measurement, but it is obscured by contributions from various other sources, some of which are two orders of magnitude larger. The influence on the length of day is below current limits of detectability. Although the nonseasonal geodynamic signals show clear interannual variability, they are too small to be detected.

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Leila Farhadi, Rolf H. Reichle, Gabriëlle J. M. De Lannoy, and John S. Kimball

Abstract

The land surface freeze–thaw (F/T) state plays a key role in the hydrological and carbon cycles and thus affects water and energy exchanges and vegetation productivity at the land surface. In this study, an F/T assimilation algorithm was developed for the NASA Goddard Earth Observing System, version 5 (GEOS-5), modeling and assimilation framework. The algorithm includes a newly developed observation operator that diagnoses the landscape F/T state in the GEOS-5 Catchment land surface model. The F/T analysis is a rule-based approach that adjusts Catchment model state variables in response to binary F/T observations, while also considering forecast and observation errors. A regional observing system simulation experiment was conducted using synthetically generated F/T observations. The assimilation of perfect (error free) F/T observations reduced the root-mean-square errors (RMSEs) of surface temperature and soil temperature by 0.206° and 0.061°C, respectively, when compared to model estimates (equivalent to a relative RMSE reduction of 6.7% and 3.1%, respectively). For a maximum classification error CEmax of 10% in the synthetic F/T observations, the F/T assimilation reduced the RMSE of surface temperature and soil temperature by 0.178° and 0.036°C, respectively. For CEmax = 20%, the F/T assimilation still reduces the RMSE of model surface temperature estimates by 0.149°C but yields no improvement over the model soil temperature estimates. The F/T assimilation scheme is being developed to exploit planned F/T products from the NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission.

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A. D. McGuire, J. E. Walsh, J. S. Kimball, J. S. Clein, S. E. Euskirchen, S. Drobot, U. C. Herzfeld, J. Maslanik, R. B. Lammers, M. A. Rawlins, C. J. Vorosmarty, T. S. Rupp, W. Wu, and M. Calef

Abstract

The primary goal of the Western Arctic Linkage Experiment (WALE) was to better understand uncertainties of simulated hydrologic and ecosystem dynamics of the western Arctic in the context of 1) uncertainties in the data available to drive the models and 2) different approaches to simulating regional hydrology and ecosystem dynamics. Analyses of datasets on climate available for driving hydrologic and ecosystem models within the western Arctic during the late twentieth century indicate that there are substantial differences among the mean states of datasets for temperature, precipitation, vapor pressure, and radiation variables. Among the studies that examined temporal trends among the alternative climate datasets, there is not much consensus on trends among the datasets. In contrast, monthly and interannual variations of some variables showed some correlation across the datasets. The application of hydrology models driven by alternative climate drivers revealed that the simulation of regional hydrology was sensitive to precipitation and water vapor differences among the driving datasets and that accurate simulation of regional water balance is limited by biases in the forcing data. Satellite-based analyses for the region indicate that vegetation productivity of the region increased during the last two decades of the twentieth century because of earlier spring thaw, and the temporal variability of vegetation productivity simulated by different models from 1980 to 2000 was generally consistent with estimates based on the satellite record for applications driven with alternative climate datasets. However, the magnitude of the fluxes differed by as much as a factor of 2.5 among applications driven with different climate data, and spatial patterns of temporal trends in carbon dynamics were quite different among simulations. Finally, the study identified that the simulation of fire by ecosystem models is particularly sensitive to alternative climate datasets, with little or no fire simulated for some datasets. The results of WALE identify the importance of conducting retrospective analyses prior to coupling hydrology and ecosystem models with climate system models. For applications of hydrology and ecosystem models driven by projections of future climate, the authors recommend a coupling strategy in which future changes from climate model simulations are superimposed on the present mean climate of the most reliable datasets of historical climate.

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L. S. Bernstein, A. Berk, P. K. Acharya, D. C. Robertson, G. P. Anderson, J. H. Chetwynd, and L. M. Kimball

Abstract

A new very narrow band model (VNBM) approach has been developed and incorporated into the MODTRAN atmospheric transmittance–radiance code. The VNBM includes a computational spectral resolution of 1 cm−1, a single-line Voigt equivalent width formalism that is based on the Rodgers–Williams approximation and accounts for the finite spectral width of the interval, explicit consideration of line tails, a statistical line overlap correction, a new sublayer integration approach that treats the effect of the sublayer temperature gradient on the path radiance, and the Curtis–Godson (CG) approximation for inhomogeneous paths. A modified procedure for determining the line density parameter 1/d is introduced, which reduces its magnitude. This results in a partial correction of the VNBM tendency to overestimate the interval equivalent widths. The standard two parameter CG approximation is used for H2O and CO2, while the Goody three parameter CG approximation is used for O3. Atmospheric flux and cooling rate predictions using a research version of MODTRAN, MODR, are presented for H2O (with and without the continuum), CO2, and O3 for several model atmospheres. The effect of doubling the CO2 concentration is also considered. These calculations are compared to line-by-line (LBL) model calculations using the AER, GLA, GFDL, and GISS codes. The MODR predictions fall within the spread of the LBL results. The effects of decreasing the band model spectral resolution are illustrated using CO2 cooling rate and flux calculations.

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J. S. Kimball, M. Zhao, A. D. McGuire, F. A. Heinsch, J. Clein, M. Calef, W. M. Jolly, S. Kang, S. E. Euskirchen, K. C. McDonald, and S. W. Running

Abstract

Northern ecosystems contain much of the global reservoir of terrestrial carbon that is potentially reactive in the context of near-term climate change. Annual variability and recent trends in vegetation productivity across Alaska and northwest Canada were assessed using a satellite remote sensing–based production efficiency model and prognostic simulations of the terrestrial carbon cycle from the Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM) and BIOME–BGC (BioGeoChemical Cycles) model. Evidence of a small, but widespread, positive trend in vegetation gross and net primary production (GPP and NPP) is found for the region from 1982 to 2000, coinciding with summer warming of more than 1.8°C and subsequent relaxation of cold temperature constraints to plant growth. Prognostic model simulation results were generally consistent with the remote sensing record and also indicated that an increase in soil decomposition and plant-available nitrogen with regional warming was partially responsible for the positive productivity response. Despite a positive trend in litter inputs to the soil organic carbon pool, the model results showed evidence of a decline in less labile soil organic carbon, which represents approximately 75% of total carbon storage for the region. These results indicate that the regional carbon cycle may accelerate under a warming climate by increasing the fraction of total carbon storage in vegetation biomass and more rapid turnover of the terrestrial carbon reservoir.

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Rolf H. Reichle, Qing Liu, Joseph V. Ardizzone, Wade T. Crow, Gabrielle J. M. De Lannoy, Jianzhi Dong, John S. Kimball, and Randal D. Koster

Abstract

Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission L-band brightness temperature (Tb) observations are routinely assimilated into the Catchment land surface model to generate Level-4 soil moisture (L4_SM) estimates of global surface and root-zone soil moisture at 9-km, 3-hourly resolution with ~2.5-day latency. The Catchment model in the L4_SM algorithm is driven with 1/4°, hourly surface meteorological forcing data from the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS). Outside of Africa and the high latitudes, GEOS precipitation is corrected using Climate Prediction Center Unified (CPCU) gauge-based, 1/2°, daily precipitation. L4_SM soil moisture was previously shown to improve over land model-only estimates that use CPCU precipitation but no Tb assimilation (CPCU_SIM). Here, we additionally examine the skill of model-only (CTRL) and Tb assimilation-only (SMAP_DA) estimates derived without CPCU precipitation. Soil moisture is assessed versus in situ measurements in well-instrumented regions and globally through the instrumental variable (IV) method using independent soil moisture retrievals from the Advanced Scatterometer. At the in situ locations, SMAP_DA and CPCU_SIM have comparable soil moisture skill improvements relative to CTRL for the unbiased root-mean-square error (surface and root-zone) and correlation metrics (root-zone only). In the global average, SMAP Tb assimilation increases the surface soil moisture anomaly correlation by 0.10–0.11 compared to an increase of 0.02–0.03 from the CPCU-based precipitation corrections. The contrast is particularly strong in central Australia, where CPCU is known to have errors and observation-minus-forecast Tb residuals are larger when CPCU precipitation is used. Validation versus streamflow measurements in the contiguous United States reveals that CPCU precipitation provides most of the skill gained in L4_SM runoff estimates over CTRL.

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Rolf H. Reichle, Gabrielle J. M. De Lannoy, Qing Liu, Randal D. Koster, John S. Kimball, Wade T. Crow, Joseph V. Ardizzone, Purnendu Chakraborty, Douglas W. Collins, Austin L. Conaty, Manuela Girotto, Lucas A. Jones, Jana Kolassa, Hans Lievens, Robert A. Lucchesi, and Edmond B. Smith

Abstract

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission Level-4 Soil Moisture (L4_SM) product provides 3-hourly, 9-km resolution, global estimates of surface (0–5 cm) and root-zone (0–100 cm) soil moisture and related land surface variables from 31 March 2015 to present with ~2.5-day latency. The ensemble-based L4_SM algorithm assimilates SMAP brightness temperature (Tb) observations into the Catchment land surface model. This study describes the spatially distributed L4_SM analysis and assesses the observation-minus-forecast (OF) Tb residuals and the soil moisture and temperature analysis increments. Owing to the climatological rescaling of the Tb observations prior to assimilation, the analysis is essentially unbiased, with global mean values of ~0.37 K for the OF Tb residuals and practically zero for the soil moisture and temperature increments. There are, however, modest regional (absolute) biases in the OF residuals (under ~3 K), the soil moisture increments (under ~0.01 m3 m−3), and the surface soil temperature increments (under ~1 K). Typical instantaneous values are ~6 K for OF residuals, ~0.01 (~0.003) m3 m−3 for surface (root zone) soil moisture increments, and ~0.6 K for surface soil temperature increments. The OF diagnostics indicate that the actual errors in the system are overestimated in deserts and densely vegetated regions and underestimated in agricultural regions and transition zones between dry and wet climates. The OF autocorrelations suggest that the SMAP observations are used efficiently in western North America, the Sahel, and Australia, but not in many forested regions and the high northern latitudes. A case study in Australia demonstrates that assimilating SMAP observations successfully corrects short-term errors in the L4_SM rainfall forcing.

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Michael A. Rawlins, Michael Steele, Marika M. Holland, Jennifer C. Adam, Jessica E. Cherry, Jennifer A. Francis, Pavel Ya Groisman, Larry D. Hinzman, Thomas G. Huntington, Douglas L. Kane, John S. Kimball, Ron Kwok, Richard B. Lammers, Craig M. Lee, Dennis P. Lettenmaier, Kyle C. McDonald, Erika Podest, Jonathan W. Pundsack, Bert Rudels, Mark C. Serreze, Alexander Shiklomanov, Øystein Skagseth, Tara J. Troy, Charles J. Vörösmarty, Mark Wensnahan, Eric F. Wood, Rebecca Woodgate, Daqing Yang, Ke Zhang, and Tingjun Zhang

Abstract

Hydrologic cycle intensification is an expected manifestation of a warming climate. Although positive trends in several global average quantities have been reported, no previous studies have documented broad intensification across elements of the Arctic freshwater cycle (FWC). In this study, the authors examine the character and quantitative significance of changes in annual precipitation, evapotranspiration, and river discharge across the terrestrial pan-Arctic over the past several decades from observations and a suite of coupled general circulation models (GCMs). Trends in freshwater flux and storage derived from observations across the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas are also described.

With few exceptions, precipitation, evapotranspiration, and river discharge fluxes from observations and the GCMs exhibit positive trends. Significant positive trends above the 90% confidence level, however, are not present for all of the observations. Greater confidence in the GCM trends arises through lower interannual variability relative to trend magnitude. Put another way, intrinsic variability in the observations tends to limit confidence in trend robustness. Ocean fluxes are less certain, primarily because of the lack of long-term observations. Where available, salinity and volume flux data suggest some decrease in saltwater inflow to the Barents Sea (i.e., a decrease in freshwater outflow) in recent decades. A decline in freshwater storage across the central Arctic Ocean and suggestions that large-scale circulation plays a dominant role in freshwater trends raise questions as to whether Arctic Ocean freshwater flows are intensifying. Although oceanic fluxes of freshwater are highly variable and consistent trends are difficult to verify, the other components of the Arctic FWC do show consistent positive trends over recent decades. The broad-scale increases provide evidence that the Arctic FWC is experiencing intensification. Efforts that aim to develop an adequate observation system are needed to reduce uncertainties and to detect and document ongoing changes in all system components for further evidence of Arctic FWC intensification.

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