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Benjamin F. Zaitchik and Matthew Rodell

Abstract

Snow cover over land has a significant impact on the surface radiation budget, turbulent energy fluxes to the atmosphere, and local hydrological fluxes. For this reason, inaccuracies in the representation of snow-covered area (SCA) within a land surface model (LSM) can lead to substantial errors in both offline and coupled simulations. Data assimilation algorithms have the potential to address this problem. However, the assimilation of SCA observations is complicated by an information deficit in the observation—SCA indicates only the presence or absence of snow, not snow water equivalent—and by the fact that assimilated SCA observations can introduce inconsistencies with atmospheric forcing data, leading to nonphysical artifacts in the local water balance. In this paper, a novel assimilation algorithm is presented that introduces Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) SCA observations to the Noah LSM in global, uncoupled simulations. The algorithm uses observations from up to 72 h ahead of the model simulation to correct against emerging errors in the simulation of snow cover while preserving the local hydrologic balance. This is accomplished by using future snow observations to adjust air temperature and, when necessary, precipitation within the LSM. In global, offline integrations, this new assimilation algorithm provided improved simulation of SCA and snow water equivalent relative to open loop integrations and integrations that used an earlier SCA assimilation algorithm. These improvements, in turn, influenced the simulation of surface water and energy fluxes during the snow season and, in some regions, on into the following spring.

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Benjamin F. Zaitchik, Matthew Rodell, and Rolf H. Reichle

Abstract

Assimilation of data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) system of satellites yielded improved simulation of water storage and fluxes in the Mississippi River basin, as evaluated against independent measurements. The authors assimilated GRACE-derived monthly terrestrial water storage (TWS) anomalies for each of the four major subbasins of the Mississippi into the Catchment Land Surface Model (CLSM) using an ensemble Kalman smoother from January 2003 to May 2006. Compared with the open-loop CLSM simulation, assimilation estimates of groundwater variability exhibited enhanced skill with respect to measured groundwater in all four subbasins. Assimilation also significantly increased the correlation between simulated TWS and gauged river flow for all four subbasins and for the Mississippi River itself. In addition, model performance was evaluated for eight smaller watersheds within the Mississippi basin, all of which are smaller than the scale of GRACE observations. In seven of eight cases, GRACE assimilation led to increased correlation between TWS estimates and gauged river flow, indicating that data assimilation has considerable potential to downscale GRACE data for hydrological applications.

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Mutlu Ozdogan, Matthew Rodell, Hiroko Kato Beaudoing, and David L. Toll

Abstract

A novel method is introduced for integrating satellite-derived irrigation data and high-resolution crop-type information into a land surface model (LSM). The objective is to improve the simulation of land surface states and fluxes through better representation of agricultural land use. Ultimately, this scheme could enable numerical weather prediction (NWP) models to capture land–atmosphere feedbacks in managed lands more accurately and thus improve forecast skill. Here, it is shown that the application of the new irrigation scheme over the continental United States significantly influences the surface water and energy balances by modulating the partitioning of water between the surface and the atmosphere. In this experiment, irrigation caused a 12% increase in evapotranspiration (QLE) and an equivalent reduction in the sensible heat flux (QH) averaged over all irrigated areas in the continental United States during the 2003 growing season. Local effects were more extreme: irrigation shifted more than 100 W m−2 from QH to QLE in many locations in California, eastern Idaho, southern Washington, and southern Colorado during peak crop growth. In these cases, the changes in ground heat flux (QG), net radiation (RNET), evapotranspiration (ET), runoff (R), and soil moisture (SM) were more than 3 W m−2, 20 W m−2, 5 mm day−1, 0.3 mm day−1, and 100 mm, respectively. These results are highly relevant to continental-to-global-scale water and energy cycle studies that, to date, have struggled to quantify the effects of agricultural management practices such as irrigation. On the basis of the results presented here, it is expected that better representation of managed lands will lead to improved weather and climate forecasting skill when the new irrigation scheme is incorporated into NWP models such as NOAA’s Global Forecast System (GFS).

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Ally M. Toure, Matthew Rodell, Zong-Liang Yang, Hiroko Beaudoing, Edward Kim, Yongfei Zhang, and Yonghwan Kwon

Abstract

This paper evaluates the simulation of snow by the Community Land Model, version 4 (CLM4), the land model component of the Community Earth System Model, version 1.0.4 (CESM1.0.4). CLM4 was run in an offline mode forced with the corrected land-only replay of the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA-Land) and the output was evaluated for the period from January 2001 to January 2011 over the Northern Hemisphere poleward of 30°N. Simulated snow-cover fraction (SCF), snow depth, and snow water equivalent (SWE) were compared against a set of observations including the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) SCF, the Interactive Multisensor Snow and Ice Mapping System (IMS) snow cover, the Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC) daily snow analysis products, snow depth from the National Weather Service Cooperative Observer (COOP) program, and Snowpack Telemetry (SNOTEL) SWE observations. CLM4 SCF was converted into snow-cover extent (SCE) to compare with MODIS SCE. It showed good agreement, with a correlation coefficient of 0.91 and an average bias of −1.54 × 102 km2. Overall, CLM4 agreed well with IMS snow cover, with the percentage of correctly modeled snow–no snow being 94%. CLM4 snow depth and SWE agreed reasonably well with the CMC product, with the average bias (RMSE) of snow depth and SWE being 0.044 m (0.19 m) and −0.010 m (0.04 m), respectively. CLM4 underestimated SNOTEL SWE and COOP snow depth. This study demonstrates the need to improve the CLM4 snow estimates and constitutes a benchmark against which improvement of the model through data assimilation can be measured.

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Yonghwan Kwon, Zong-Liang Yang, Long Zhao, Timothy J. Hoar, Ally M. Toure, and Matthew Rodell

Abstract

This paper addresses continental-scale snow estimates in North America using a recently developed snow radiance assimilation (RA) system. A series of RA experiments with the ensemble adjustment Kalman filter are conducted by assimilating the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) brightness temperature T B at 18.7- and 36.5-GHz vertical polarization channels. The overall RA performance in estimating snow depth for North America is improved by simultaneously updating the Community Land Model, version 4 (CLM4), snow/soil states and radiative transfer model (RTM) parameters involved in predicting T B based on their correlations with the prior T B (i.e., rule-based RA), although degradations are also observed. The RA system exhibits a more mixed performance for snow cover fraction estimates. Compared to the open-loop run (0.171 m RMSE), the overall snow depth estimates are improved by 1.6% (0.168 m RMSE) in the rule-based RA whereas the default RA (without a rule) results in a degradation of 3.6% (0.177 m RMSE). Significant improvement of the snow depth estimates in the rule-based RA is observed for tundra snow class (11.5%, p < 0.05) and bare soil land-cover type (13.5%, p < 0.05). However, the overall improvement is not significant (p = 0.135) because snow estimates are degraded or marginally improved for other snow classes and land covers, especially the taiga snow class and forest land cover (7.1% and 7.3% degradations, respectively). The current RA system needs to be further refined to enhance snow estimates for various snow types and forested regions.

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Richard Bernknopf, David Brookshire, Yusuke Kuwayama, Molly Macauley, Matthew Rodell, Alexandra Thompson, Peter Vail, and Benjamin Zaitchik

Abstract

A decision framework is developed for quantifying the economic value of information (VOI) from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission for drought monitoring, with a focus on the potential contributions of groundwater storage and soil moisture measurements from the GRACE data assimilation (GRACE-DA) system. The study consists of (i) the development of a conceptual framework to evaluate the socioeconomic value of GRACE-DA as a contributing source of information to drought monitoring; (ii) structured listening sessions to understand the needs of stakeholders who are affected by drought monitoring; (iii) econometric analysis based on the conceptual framework that characterizes the contribution of GRACE-DA to the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) in capturing the effects of drought on the agricultural sector; and (iv) a demonstration of how the improved characterization of drought conditions may influence decisions made in a real-world drought disaster assistance program. Results show that GRACE-DA has the potential to lower the uncertainty associated with the understanding of drought and that this improved understanding has the potential to change policy decisions that lead to tangible societal benefits.

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Bailing Li, Matthew Rodell, Christa Peters-Lidard, Jessica Erlingis, Sujay Kumar, and David Mocko

Abstract

Estimating diffuse recharge of precipitation is fundamental to assessing groundwater sustainability. Diffuse recharge is also the process through which climate and climate change directly affect groundwater. In this study, we evaluated diffuse recharge over the conterminous United States simulated by a suite of land surface models (LSMs) that were forced using a common set of meteorological input data. Simulated annual recharge exhibited spatial patterns that were similar among the LSMs, with the highest values in the eastern United States and Pacific Northwest. However, the magnitudes of annual recharge varied significantly among the models and were associated with differences in simulated ET, runoff, and snow. Evaluation against two independent datasets did not answer the question of whether the ensemble mean performs the best, due to inconsistency between those datasets. The amplitude and timing of seasonal maximum recharge differed among the models, influenced strongly by model physics governing deep soil moisture drainage rates and, in cold regions, snowmelt. Evaluation using in situ soil moisture observations suggested that true recharge peaks 1–3 months later than simulated recharge, indicating systematic biases in simulating deep soil moisture. However, recharge from lateral flows and through preferential flows cannot be inferred from soil moisture data, and the seasonal cycle of simulated groundwater storage actually compared well with in situ groundwater observations. Long-term trends in recharge were not consistently correlated with either precipitation trends or temperature trends. This study highlights the need to employ dynamic flow models in LSMs, among other improvements, to enable more accurate simulation of recharge.

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Patricia M. Lawston, Joseph A. Santanello Jr., Benjamin F. Zaitchik, and Matthew Rodell

Abstract

In the United States, irrigation represents the largest consumptive use of freshwater and accounts for approximately one-third of total water usage. Irrigation impacts soil moisture and can ultimately influence clouds and precipitation through land–planetary boundary layer (PBL) coupling processes. This study utilizes NASA’s Land Information System (LIS) and the NASA Unified Weather Research and Forecasting Model (NU-WRF) framework to investigate the effects of drip, flood, and sprinkler irrigation methods on land–atmosphere interactions, including land–PBL coupling and feedbacks at the local scale. To initialize 2-day, 1-km WRF forecasts over the central Great Plains in a drier-than-normal (2006) and a wetter-than-normal year (2008), 5-yr irrigated LIS spinups were used. The offline and coupled simulation results show that regional irrigation impacts are sensitive to time, space, and method and that irrigation cools and moistens the surface over and downwind of irrigated areas, ultimately resulting in both positive and negative feedbacks on the PBL depending on the time of day and background climate conditions. Furthermore, the results portray the importance of both irrigation method physics and correct representation of several key components of land surface models, including accurate and timely land-cover and crop-type classification, phenology (greenness), and soil moisture anomalies (through a land surface model spinup) in coupled prediction models.

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Randal D. Koster, Max J. Suarez, Ping Liu, Urszula Jambor, Aaron Berg, Michael Kistler, Rolf Reichle, Matthew Rodell, and Jay Famiglietti

Abstract

Forcing a land surface model (LSM) offline with realistic global fields of precipitation, radiation, and near-surface meteorology produces realistic fields (within the context of the LSM) of soil moisture, temperature, and other land surface states. These fields can be used as initial conditions for precipitation and temperature forecasts with an atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM). Their usefulness is tested in this regard by performing retrospective 1-month forecasts (for May through September, 1979–93) with the NASA Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) seasonal prediction system. The 75 separate forecasts provide an adequate statistical basis for quantifying improvements in forecast skill associated with land initialization.

Evaluation of skill is focused on the Great Plains of North America, a region with both a reliable land initialization and an ability of soil moisture conditions to overwhelm atmospheric chaos in the evolution of the meteorological fields. The land initialization does cause a small but statistically significant improvement in precipitation and air temperature forecasts in this region. For precipitation, the increases in forecast skill appear strongest in May through July, whereas for air temperature, they are largest in August and September. The joint initialization of land and atmospheric variables is considered in a supplemental series of ensemble monthly forecasts. Potential predictability from atmospheric initialization dominates over that from land initialization during the first 2 weeks of the forecast, whereas during the final 2 weeks, the relative contributions from the two sources are of the same order. Both land and atmospheric initialization contribute independently to the actual skill of the monthly temperature forecast, with the greatest skill derived from the initialization of both. Land initialization appears to contribute the most to monthly precipitation forecast skill.

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Augusto Getirana, Matthew Rodell, Sujay Kumar, Hiroko Kato Beaudoing, Kristi Arsenault, Benjamin Zaitchik, Himanshu Save, and Srinivas Bettadpur

Abstract

We evaluate the impact of Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment data assimilation (GRACE-DA) on seasonal hydrological forecast initialization over the United States, focusing on groundwater storage. GRACE-based terrestrial water storage (TWS) estimates are assimilated into a land surface model for the 2003–16 period. Three-month hindcast (i.e., forecast of past events) simulations are initialized using states from the reference (no data assimilation) and GRACE-DA runs. Differences between the two initial hydrological condition (IHC) sets are evaluated for two forecast techniques at 305 wells where depth to water table measurements are available. Results show that using GRACE-DA-based IHC improves seasonal groundwater forecast performance in terms of both RMSE and correlation. While most regions show improvement, degradation is common in the High Plains, where withdrawals for irrigation practices affect groundwater variability more strongly than the weather variability, which demonstrates the need for simulating such activities. These findings contribute to recent efforts toward an improved U.S. drought monitoring and forecast system.

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