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Ruth E. Comer and Martin J. Best

Abstract

The Global Land–Atmosphere Coupling Experiment (GLACE) established a method for quantifying and comparing the influence of soil moisture on the atmosphere in AGCMs. The models included in the GLACE intercomparison displayed a wide range in the strength of this influence, with the Met Office Hadley Centre (MOHC) Atmosphere Model, version 3 (HadAM3), being one of the weakest. Applying the GLACE method to a much developed version of the MOHC model, the atmospheric component of the Hadley Centre Global Environmental Model version 3 (HadGEM3-A), it is demonstrated that this new model has a stronger coupling signal than its predecessor. Although this increase in the coupling strength cannot be attributed to changes in the land surface representation, the existence of the stronger signal enables an investigation of the signal’s dependence on key land surface parameters. The GLACE method is applied to four HadGEM3-A experiment cases, with soil hydraulic parameters specified using two methods of calculation from two different underlying soil texture datasets. These cases show differences in their volumetric soil moisture and their level of moisture availability for transpiration. A change in moisture availability produces a change in evaporation variability in the same direction, which is a key factor affecting the overall land–atmosphere coupling strength. For HadGEM3-A the parameter changes therefore produce a clear change in the GLACE diagnostic.

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Bart van den Hurk, Martin Best, Paul Dirmeyer, Andy Pitman, Jan Polcher, and Joe Santanello

No abstract available.

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Maik Renner, Axel Kleidon, Martyn Clark, Bart Nijssen, Marvin Heidkamp, Martin Best, and Gab Abramowitz

Abstract

The diurnal cycle of solar radiation represents the strongest energetic forcing and dominates the exchange of heat and mass of the land surface with the atmosphere. This diurnal heat redistribution represents a core of land–atmosphere coupling that should be accurately represented in land surface models (LSMs), which are critical parts of weather and climate models. We employ a diagnostic model evaluation approach using a signature-based metric that describes the diurnal variation of heat fluxes. The metric is obtained by decomposing the diurnal variation of surface heat fluxes into their direct response and the phase lag to incoming solar radiation. We employ the output of 13 different LSMs driven with meteorological forcing of 20 FLUXNET sites (PLUMBER dataset). All LSMs show a poor representation of the evaporative fraction and thus the diurnal magnitude of the sensible and latent heat flux under cloud-free conditions. In addition, we find that the diurnal phase of both heat fluxes is poorly represented. The best performing model only reproduces 33% of the evaluated evaporative conditions across the sites. The poor performance of the diurnal cycle of turbulent heat exchange appears to be linked to how models solve for the surface energy balance and redistribute heat into the subsurface. We conclude that a systematic evaluation of diurnal signatures is likely to help to improve the simulated diurnal cycle, better represent land–atmosphere interactions, and therefore improve simulations of the near-surface climate.

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Graham P. Weedon, Christel Prudhomme, Sue Crooks, Richard J. Ellis, Sonja S. Folwell, and Martin J. Best

Abstract

Nine distributed hydrological models, forced with common meteorological inputs, simulated naturalized daily discharge from the Thames basin for 1963–2001. While model-dependent evaporative losses are critical for modeling mean discharge, multiple physical processes at many time scales influence the variability and timing of discharge. Here the use of cross-spectral analysis is advocated to measure how the average amplitude—and independently, the average phase—of modeled discharge differ from observed discharge at daily to decadal time scales. Simulation of the spectral properties of the model discharge via numerical manipulation of precipitation confirms that modeled transformation involves runoff generation and routing that amplify the annual cycle, while subsurface storage and routing of runoff between grid boxes introduces most of the autocorrelation and delays. Too much or too little modeled evaporation affects discharge variability, as do the capacity and time constants of modeled stores. Additionally, the performance of specific models would improve if four issues were tackled: 1) nonsinusoidal annual variations in model discharge (prolonged low base flow and shortened high base flow; three models), 2) excessive attenuation of high-frequency variability (three models), 3) excessive short-term variability in winter half years but too little variability in summer half years (two models), and 4) introduction of phase delays at the annual scale only during runoff generation (three models) or only during routing (one model). Cross-spectral analysis reveals how reruns of one model using alternative methods of runoff generation—designed to improve performance at the weekly to monthly time scales—degraded performance at the annual scale. The cross-spectral approach facilitates hydrological model diagnoses and development.

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Richard Harding, Martin Best, Eleanor Blyth, Stefan Hagemann, Pavel Kabat, Lena M. Tallaksen, Tanya Warnaars, David Wiberg, Graham P. Weedon, Henny van Lanen, Fulco Ludwig, and Ingjerd Haddeland

Abstract

Water-related impacts are among the most important consequences of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. Changes in the global water cycle will also impact the carbon and nutrient cycles and vegetation patterns. There is already some evidence of increasing severity of floods and droughts and increasing water scarcity linked to increasing greenhouse gases. So far, however, the most important impacts on water resources are the direct interventions by humans, such as dams, water extractions, and river channel modifications. The Water and Global Change (WATCH) project is a major international initiative to bring together climate and water scientists to better understand the current and future water cycle. This paper summarizes the underlying motivation for the WATCH project and the major results from a series of papers published or soon to be published in the Journal of Hydrometeorology WATCH special collection. At its core is the Water Model Intercomparison Project (WaterMIP), which brings together a wide range of global hydrological and land surface models run with consistent driving data. It is clear that we still have considerable uncertainties in the future climate drivers and in how the river systems will respond to these changes. There is a grand challenge to the hydrological and climate communities to both reduce these uncertainties and communicate them to a wider society.

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Ned Haughton, Gab Abramowitz, Andy J. Pitman, Dani Or, Martin J. Best, Helen R. Johnson, Gianpaolo Balsamo, Aaron Boone, Matthias Cuntz, Bertrand Decharme, Paul A. Dirmeyer, Jairui Dong, Michael Ek, Zichang Guo, Vanessa Haverd, Bart J. J. van den Hurk, Grey S. Nearing, Bernard Pak, Joe A. Santanello Jr., Lauren E. Stevens, and Nicolas Vuichard

Abstract

The Protocol for the Analysis of Land Surface Models (PALS) Land Surface Model Benchmarking Evaluation Project (PLUMBER) illustrated the value of prescribing a priori performance targets in model intercomparisons. It showed that the performance of turbulent energy flux predictions from different land surface models, at a broad range of flux tower sites using common evaluation metrics, was on average worse than relatively simple empirical models. For sensible heat fluxes, all land surface models were outperformed by a linear regression against downward shortwave radiation. For latent heat flux, all land surface models were outperformed by a regression against downward shortwave radiation, surface air temperature, and relative humidity. These results are explored here in greater detail and possible causes are investigated. It is examined whether particular metrics or sites unduly influence the collated results, whether results change according to time-scale aggregation, and whether a lack of energy conservation in flux tower data gives the empirical models an unfair advantage in the intercomparison. It is demonstrated that energy conservation in the observational data is not responsible for these results. It is also shown that the partitioning between sensible and latent heat fluxes in LSMs, rather than the calculation of available energy, is the cause of the original findings. Finally, evidence is presented that suggests that the nature of this partitioning problem is likely shared among all contributing LSMs. While a single candidate explanation for why land surface models perform poorly relative to empirical benchmarks in PLUMBER could not be found, multiple possible explanations are excluded and guidance is provided on where future research should focus.

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Ingjerd Haddeland, Douglas B. Clark, Wietse Franssen, Fulco Ludwig, Frank Voß, Nigel W. Arnell, Nathalie Bertrand, Martin Best, Sonja Folwell, Dieter Gerten, Sandra Gomes, Simon N. Gosling, Stefan Hagemann, Naota Hanasaki, Richard Harding, Jens Heinke, Pavel Kabat, Sujan Koirala, Taikan Oki, Jan Polcher, Tobias Stacke, Pedro Viterbo, Graham P. Weedon, and Pat Yeh

Abstract

Six land surface models and five global hydrological models participate in a model intercomparison project [Water Model Intercomparison Project (WaterMIP)], which for the first time compares simulation results of these different classes of models in a consistent way. In this paper, the simulation setup is described and aspects of the multimodel global terrestrial water balance are presented. All models were run at 0.5° spatial resolution for the global land areas for a 15-yr period (1985–99) using a newly developed global meteorological dataset. Simulated global terrestrial evapotranspiration, excluding Greenland and Antarctica, ranges from 415 to 586 mm yr−1 (from 60 000 to 85 000 km3 yr−1), and simulated runoff ranges from 290 to 457 mm yr−1 (from 42 000 to 66 000 km3 yr−1). Both the mean and median runoff fractions for the land surface models are lower than those of the global hydrological models, although the range is wider. Significant simulation differences between land surface and global hydrological models are found to be caused by the snow scheme employed. The physically based energy balance approach used by land surface models generally results in lower snow water equivalent values than the conceptual degree-day approach used by global hydrological models. Some differences in simulated runoff and evapotranspiration are explained by model parameterizations, although the processes included and parameterizations used are not distinct to either land surface models or global hydrological models. The results show that differences between models are a major source of uncertainty. Climate change impact studies thus need to use not only multiple climate models but also some other measure of uncertainty (e.g., multiple impact models).

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Janet Barlow, Martin Best, Sylvia I. Bohnenstengel, Peter Clark, Sue Grimmond, Humphrey Lean, Andreas Christen, Stefan Emeis, Martial Haeffelin, Ian N. Harman, Aude Lemonsu, Alberto Martilli, Eric Pardyjak, Mathias W Rotach, Susan Ballard, Ian Boutle, Andy Brown, Xiaoming Cai, Matteo Carpentieri, Omduth Coceal, Ben Crawford, Silvana Di Sabatino, Junxia Dou, Daniel R. Drew, John M. Edwards, Joachim Fallmann, Krzysztof Fortuniak, Jemma Gornall, Tobias Gronemeier, Christos H. Halios, Denise Hertwig, Kohin Hirano, Albert A. M. Holtslag, Zhiwen Luo, Gerald Mills, Makoto Nakayoshi, Kathy Pain, K. Heinke Schlünzen, Stefan Smith, Lionel Soulhac, Gert-Jan Steeneveld, Ting Sun, Natalie E Theeuwes, David Thomson, James A. Voogt, Helen C. Ward, Zheng-Tong Xie, and Jian Zhong
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