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Peter J. Shellito, Sujay V. Kumar, Joseph A. Santanello Jr., Patricia Lawston-Parker, John D. Bolten, Michael H. Cosh, David D. Bosch, Chandra D. Holifield Collins, Stan Livingston, John Prueger, Mark Seyfried, and Patrick J. Starks


The utility of hydrologic land surface models (LSMs) can be enhanced by using information from observational platforms, but mismatches between the two are common. This study assesses the degree to which model agreement with observations is affected by two mechanisms in particular: 1) physical incongruities between the support volumes being characterized and 2) inadequate or inconsistent parameterizations of physical processes. The Noah and Noah-MP LSMs by default characterize surface soil moisture (SSM) in the top 10 cm of the soil column. This depth is notably different from the 5-cm (or less) sensing depth of L-band radiometers such as NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite mission. These depth inconsistencies are examined by using thinner model layers in the Noah and Noah-MP LSMs and comparing resultant simulations to in situ and SMAP soil moisture. In addition, a forward radiative transfer model (RTM) is used to facilitate direct comparisons of LSM-based and SMAP-based L-band Tb retrievals. Agreement between models and observations is quantified using Kolmogorov–Smirnov distance values, calculated from empirical cumulative distribution functions of SSM and Tb time series. Results show that agreement of SSM and Tb with observations depends primarily on systematic biases, and the sign of those biases depends on the particular subspace being analyzed (SSM or Tb). This study concludes that the role of increased soil layer discretization on simulated soil moisture and Tb is secondary to the influence of component parameterizations, the effects of which dominate systematic differences with observations.

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Michael F. Jasinski, Jordan S. Borak, Sujay V. Kumar, David M. Mocko, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Matthew Rodell, Hualan Rui, Hiroko K. Beaudoing, Bruce E. Vollmer, Kristi R. Arsenault, Bailing Li, John D. Bolten, and Natthachet Tangdamrongsub


Terrestrial hydrologic trends over the conterminous United States are estimated for 1980–2015 using the National Climate Assessment Land Data Assimilation System (NCA-LDAS) reanalysis. NCA-LDAS employs the uncoupled Noah version 3.3 land surface model at 0.125° × 0.125° forced with NLDAS-2 meteorology, rescaled Climate Prediction Center precipitation, and assimilated satellite-based soil moisture, snow depth, and irrigation products. Mean annual trends are reported using the nonparametric Mann–Kendall test at p < 0.1 significance. Results illustrate the interrelationship between regional gradients in forcing trends and trends in other land energy and water stores and fluxes. Mean precipitation trends range from +3 to +9 mm yr−1 in the upper Great Plains and Northeast to −1 to −9 mm yr−1 in the West and South, net radiation flux trends range from +0.05 to +0.20 W m−2 yr−1 in the East to −0.05 to −0.20 W m−2 yr−1 in the West, and U.S.-wide temperature trends average about +0.03 K yr−1. Trends in soil moisture, snow cover, latent and sensible heat fluxes, and runoff are consistent with forcings, contributing to increasing evaporative fraction trends from west to east. Evaluation of NCA-LDAS trends compared to independent data indicates mixed results. The RMSE of U.S.-wide trends in number of snow cover days improved from 3.13 to 2.89 days yr−1 while trend detection increased 11%. Trends in latent heat flux were hardly affected, with RMSE decreasing only from 0.17 to 0.16 W m−2 yr−1, while trend detection increased 2%. NCA-LDAS runoff trends degraded significantly from 2.6 to 16.1 mm yr−1 while trend detection was unaffected. Analysis also indicated that NCA-LDAS exhibits relatively more skill in low precipitation station density areas, suggesting there are limits to the effectiveness of satellite data assimilation in densely gauged regions. Overall, NCA-LDAS demonstrates capability for quantifying physically consistent, U.S. hydrologic climate trends over the satellite era.

Open access
Enrique R. Vivoni, Hugo A. Gutiérrez-Jurado, Carlos A. Aragón, Luis A. Méndez-Barroso, Alex J. Rinehart, Robert L. Wyckoff, Julio C. Rodríguez, Christopher J. Watts, John D. Bolten, Venkataraman Lakshmi, and Thomas J. Jackson


Relatively little is currently known about the spatiotemporal variability of land surface conditions during the North American monsoon, in particular for regions of complex topography. As a result, the role played by land–atmosphere interactions in generating convective rainfall over steep terrain and sustaining monsoon conditions is still poorly understood. In this study, the variation of hydrometeorological conditions along a large-scale topographic transect in northwestern Mexico is described. The transect field experiment consisted of daily sampling at 30 sites selected to represent variations in elevation and ecosystem distribution. Simultaneous soil and atmospheric variables were measured during a 2-week period in early August 2004. Transect observations were supplemented by a network of continuous sampling sites used to analyze the regional hydrometeorological conditions prior to and during the field experiment. Results reveal the strong control exerted by topography on the spatial and temporal variability in soil moisture, with distinct landscape regions experiencing different hydrologic regimes. Reduced variations at the plot and transect scale during a drydown period indicate that homogenization of hydrologic conditions occurred over the landscape. Furthermore, atmospheric variables are clearly linked to surface conditions, indicating that heating and moistening of the boundary layer closely follow spatial and temporal changes in hydrologic properties. Land–atmosphere interactions at the basin scale (∼100 km2), obtained via a technique accounting for topographic variability, further reveal the role played by the land surface in sustaining high atmospheric moisture conditions, with implications toward rainfall generation during the North American monsoon.

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