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N. Gedney and P. M. Cox

Abstract

Improving the treatment of subgrid-scale soil moisture variations is recognized as a priority for the next generation of land surface schemes. Here, the impact of an improved representation of subgrid-scale soil moisture heterogeneity on global climate model (GCM) simulations of current and future climates is carried out using Version three of the Hadley Centre Atmospheric Climate Model (HadAM3) coupled to the Met Office Surface Exchange Scheme (MOSES). MOSES was adapted to make use of the rainfall runoff model TOPMODEL algorithms, which relate the local water table depth to the grid box mean water table depth, assuming that subgrid-scale topography is the primary cause of soil moisture heterogeneity. This approach was also applied to produce a novel model for wetland area, which can ultimately be used to interactively model methane emissions from wetlands. The modified scheme was validated offline by forcing with near-surface Global Soil Wetness Project (GSWP) data, and online within the HadAM3 global climate model. In both cases it was found to improve the present-day simulation of runoff and produce realistic distributions of global wetland area. (Precipitation was also improved in the online simulation.) The new scheme results in substantial differences in the modeled sensitivity of runoff to climate change, with implications for the modeling of hydrological impacts.

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N. Gedney, P. M. Cox, H. Douville, J. Polcher, and P. J. Valdes

Abstract

The impact of land surface representation on GCM simulations of climate change is analyzed using eight climate change experiments, carried out with four GCMs each utilizing two different land surface schemes (LSSs). In the regions studied (Amazonia, the Sahel, and southern Europe) the simulations differ markedly in terms of their predicted changes in evapotranspiration and soil moisture. These differences are only partly as a result of differences in the predicted changes in precipitation and available energy. A simple “bucket model” characterization of each LSS demonstrates that the different hydrological sensitivities are also strongly dependent on properties of the LSS, most notably the runoff, which occurs when evaporation is marginally soil moisture limited. This parameter, “Y c,” varies significantly among the LSSs, and influences both the soil moisture in the 1 × CO2 control climate, and the sensitivity of both evaporation and soil moisture to climate change. It is concluded that uncertainty in the predicted changes in surface hydrology is more dependent on such gross features of the runoff versus soil moisture curve than on the detailed treatment of evapotranspiration.

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Victoria A. Bell, Nicola Gedney, Alison L. Kay, Roderick N. B. Smith, Richard G. Jones, and Robert J. Moore

Abstract

River basin managers concerned with maintaining water supplies and mitigating flood risk in the face of climate change are taking outputs from climate models and using them in hydrological models for assessment purposes. While precipitation is the main output used, evaporation is attracting increasing attention because of its significance to the water balance of river basins. Climate models provide estimates of actual evaporation that are consistent with their simplified land surface schemes but do not naturally provide the estimates of potential evaporation (PE) commonly required as input to hydrological models. There are clear advantages in using PE estimates controlled by atmospheric forcings when using stand-alone hydrological models with integral soil-moisture accounting schemes. The atmosphere–land decoupling approximation that PE provides can prove to be of further benefit if it is possible to account for the effect of different, or changing, land cover on PE outside of the climate model. The methods explored here estimate Penman–Monteith PE from vegetated surfaces using outputs from climate models that have an embedded land surface scheme. The land surface scheme enables an examination of the dependence of canopy stomatal resistance on atmospheric composition, and the sensitivity of PE estimates to the choice of canopy resistance values under current and changing climates is demonstrated. The conclusions have practical value for climate change impact studies relating to flood, drought, and water management applications.

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Malcolm J. Roberts, H. Banks, N. Gedney, J. Gregory, R. Hill, S. Mullerworth, A. Pardaens, G. Rickard, R. Thorpe, and R. Wood

Abstract

Initial results are presented from a 150-yr control and an 80-yr transient simulation of a new global coupled climate model with an ocean model resolution of ⅓°, which is sufficient to permit ocean eddies to form. With no spinup procedure or flux correction, the coupled model remains close to radiative equilibrium, and the enhanced ocean resolution allows an improved ocean state to be simulated; this includes a general decrease in sea surface temperature errors compared to climatology and more realistic large-scale flows compared to previous lower-resolution models. However, the improvements in the atmospheric and coupled model climatology are less pronounced, with small improvements in atmospheric circulation counterbalanced by an El Niño–Southern Oscillation cycle that has peak power at too short a period and with too little power on longer time scales. With the model using exactly the same atmospheric component as a lower-resolution counterpart, the comparison gives some insight into the impact of ocean resolution on climate and suggests that a corresponding increase in atmospheric resolution may be needed before major changes to the coupled climatology are seen.

The transient climate change simulation shows some important regional differences in response compared to previous lower-resolution models. A less pronounced weakening to the meridional overturning in the North Atlantic leads to a smaller decrease in northward heat transport and enhances the surface temperature increase in the northern Europe–Atlantic region by 10% over the lower-resolution model. This may be connected to processes involved in deep-water formation in the Labrador and Nordic Seas.

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Lifeng Luo, Alan Robock, Konstantin Y. Vinnikov, C. Adam Schlosser, Andrew G. Slater, Aaron Boone, Pierre Etchevers, Florence Habets, Joel Noilhan, Harald Braden, Peter Cox, Patricia de Rosnay, Robert E. Dickinson, Yongjiu Dai, Qing-Cun Zeng, Qingyun Duan, John Schaake, Ann Henderson-Sellers, Nicola Gedney, Yevgeniy M. Gusev, Olga N. Nasonova, Jinwon Kim, Eva Kowalczyk, Kenneth Mitchell, Andrew J. Pitman, Andrey B. Shmakin, Tatiana G. Smirnova, Peter Wetzel, Yongkang Xue, and Zong-Liang Yang

Abstract

The Project for Intercomparison of Land-Surface Parameterization Schemes phase 2(d) experiment at Valdai, Russia, offers a unique opportunity to evaluate land surface schemes, especially snow and frozen soil parameterizations. Here, the ability of the 21 schemes that participated in the experiment to correctly simulate the thermal and hydrological properties of the soil on several different timescales was examined. Using observed vertical profiles of soil temperature and soil moisture, the impact of frozen soil schemes in the land surface models on the soil temperature and soil moisture simulations was evaluated.

It was found that when soil-water freezing is explicitly included in a model, it improves the simulation of soil temperature and its variability at seasonal and interannual scales. Although change of thermal conductivity of the soil also affects soil temperature simulation, this effect is rather weak. The impact of frozen soil on soil moisture is inconclusive in this experiment due to the particular climate at Valdai, where the top 1 m of soil is very close to saturation during winter and the range for soil moisture changes at the time of snowmelt is very limited. The results also imply that inclusion of explicit snow processes in the models would contribute to substantially improved simulations. More sophisticated snow models based on snow physics tend to produce better snow simulations, especially of snow ablation. Hysteresis of snow-cover fraction as a function of snow depth is observed at the catchment but not in any of the models.

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Weiqing Qu, A. Henderson-Sellers, A. J. Pitman, T. H. Chen, F. Abramopoulos, A. Boone, S. Chang, F. Chen, Y. Dai, R. E. Dickinson, L. Dümenil, M. Ek, N. Gedney, Y. M. Gusev, J. Kim, R. Koster, E. A. Kowalczyk, J. Lean, D. Lettenmaier, X. Liang, J.-F. Mahfouf, H.-T. Mengelkamp, K. Mitchell, O. N. Nasonova, J. Noilhan, A. Robock, C. Rosenzweig, J. Schaake, C. A. Schlosser, J.-P. Schulz, A. B. Shmakin, D. L. Verseghy, P. Wetzel, E. F. Wood, Z.-L. Yang, and Q. Zeng

Abstract

In the PILPS Phase 2a experiment, 23 land-surface schemes were compared in an off-line control experiment using observed meteorological data from Cabauw, the Netherlands. Two simple sensitivity experiments were also undertaken in which the observed surface air temperature was artificially increased or decreased by 2 K while all other factors remained as observed. On the annual timescale, all schemes show similar responses to these perturbations in latent, sensible heat flux, and other key variables. For the 2-K increase in temperature, surface temperatures and latent heat fluxes all increase while net radiation, sensible heat fluxes, and soil moistures all decrease. The results are reversed for a 2-K temperature decrease. The changes in sensible heat fluxes and, especially, the changes in the latent heat fluxes are not linearly related to the change of temperature. Theoretically, the nonlinear relationship between air temperature and the latent heat flux is evident and due to the convex relationship between air temperature and saturation vapor pressure. A simple test shows that, the effect of the change of air temperature on the atmospheric stratification aside, this nonlinear relationship is shown in the form that the increase of the latent heat flux for a 2-K temperature increase is larger than its decrease for a 2-K temperature decrease. However, the results from the Cabauw sensitivity experiments show that the increase of the latent heat flux in the +2-K experiment is smaller than the decrease of the latent heat flux in the −2-K experiment (we refer to this as the asymmetry). The analysis in this paper shows that this inconsistency between the theoretical relationship and the Cabauw sensitivity experiments results (or the asymmetry) is due to (i) the involvement of the β g formulation, which is a function of a series stress factors that limited the evaporation and whose values change in the ±2-K experiments, leading to strong modifications of the latent heat flux; (ii) the change of the drag coefficient induced by the changes in stratification due to the imposed air temperature changes (±2 K) in parameterizations of latent heat flux common in current land-surface schemes. Among all stress factors involved in the β g formulation, the soil moisture stress in the +2-K experiment induced by the increased evaporation is the main factor that contributes to the asymmetry.

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T. H. Chen, A. Henderson-Sellers, P. C. D. Milly, A. J. Pitman, A. C. M. Beljaars, J. Polcher, F. Abramopoulos, A. Boone, S. Chang, F. Chen, Y. Dai, C. E. Desborough, R. E. Dickinson, L. Dümenil, M. Ek, J. R. Garratt, N. Gedney, Y. M. Gusev, J. Kim, R. Koster, E. A. Kowalczyk, K. Laval, J. Lean, D. Lettenmaier, X. Liang, J.-F. Mahfouf, H.-T. Mengelkamp, K. Mitchell, O. N. Nasonova, J. Noilhan, A. Robock, C. Rosenzweig, J. Schaake, C. A. Schlosser, J.-P. Schulz, Y. Shao, A. B. Shmakin, D. L. Verseghy, P. Wetzel, E. F. Wood, Y. Xue, Z.-L. Yang, and Q. Zeng

Abstract

In the Project for Intercomparison of Land-Surface Parameterization Schemes phase 2a experiment, meteorological data for the year 1987 from Cabauw, the Netherlands, were used as inputs to 23 land-surface flux schemes designed for use in climate and weather models. Schemes were evaluated by comparing their outputs with long-term measurements of surface sensible heat fluxes into the atmosphere and the ground, and of upward longwave radiation and total net radiative fluxes, and also comparing them with latent heat fluxes derived from a surface energy balance. Tuning of schemes by use of the observed flux data was not permitted. On an annual basis, the predicted surface radiative temperature exhibits a range of 2 K across schemes, consistent with the range of about 10 W m−2 in predicted surface net radiation. Most modeled values of monthly net radiation differ from the observations by less than the estimated maximum monthly observational error (±10 W m−2). However, modeled radiative surface temperature appears to have a systematic positive bias in most schemes; this might be explained by an error in assumed emissivity and by models’ neglect of canopy thermal heterogeneity. Annual means of sensible and latent heat fluxes, into which net radiation is partitioned, have ranges across schemes of30 W m−2 and 25 W m−2, respectively. Annual totals of evapotranspiration and runoff, into which the precipitation is partitioned, both have ranges of 315 mm. These ranges in annual heat and water fluxes were approximately halved upon exclusion of the three schemes that have no stomatal resistance under non-water-stressed conditions. Many schemes tend to underestimate latent heat flux and overestimate sensible heat flux in summer, with a reverse tendency in winter. For six schemes, root-mean-square deviations of predictions from monthly observations are less than the estimated upper bounds on observation errors (5 W m−2 for sensible heat flux and 10 W m−2 for latent heat flux). Actual runoff at the site is believed to be dominated by vertical drainage to groundwater, but several schemes produced significant amounts of runoff as overland flow or interflow. There is a range across schemes of 184 mm (40% of total pore volume) in the simulated annual mean root-zone soil moisture. Unfortunately, no measurements of soil moisture were available for model evaluation. A theoretical analysis suggested that differences in boundary conditions used in various schemes are not sufficient to explain the large variance in soil moisture. However, many of the extreme values of soil moisture could be explained in terms of the particulars of experimental setup or excessive evapotranspiration.

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A. G. Slater, C. A. Schlosser, C. E. Desborough, A. J. Pitman, A. Henderson-Sellers, A. Robock, K. Ya Vinnikov, J. Entin, K. Mitchell, F. Chen, A. Boone, P. Etchevers, F. Habets, J. Noilhan, H. Braden, P. M. Cox, P. de Rosnay, R. E. Dickinson, Z-L. Yang, Y-J. Dai, Q. Zeng, Q. Duan, V. Koren, S. Schaake, N. Gedney, Ye M. Gusev, O. N. Nasonova, J. Kim, E. A. Kowalczyk, A. B. Shmakin, T. G. Smirnova, D. Verseghy, P. Wetzel, and Y. Xue

Abstract

Twenty-one land surface schemes (LSSs) performed simulations forced by 18 yr of observed meteorological data from a grassland catchment at Valdai, Russia, as part of the Project for the Intercomparison of Land-Surface Parameterization Schemes (PILPS) Phase 2(d). In this paper the authors examine the simulation of snow. In comparison with observations, the models are able to capture the broad features of the snow regime on both an intra- and interannual basis. However, weaknesses in the simulations exist, and early season ablation events are a significant source of model scatter. Over the 18-yr simulation, systematic differences between the models’ snow simulations are evident and reveal specific aspects of snow model parameterization and design as being responsible. Vapor exchange at the snow surface varies widely among the models, ranging from a large net loss to a small net source for the snow season. Snow albedo, fractional snow cover, and their interplay have a large effect on energy available for ablation, with differences among models most evident at low snow depths. The incorporation of the snowpack within an LSS structure affects the method by which snow accesses, as well as utilizes, available energy for ablation. The sensitivity of some models to longwave radiation, the dominant winter radiative flux, is partly due to a stability-induced feedback and the differing abilities of models to exchange turbulent energy with the atmosphere. Results presented in this paper suggest where weaknesses in macroscale snow modeling lie and where both theoretical and observational work should be focused to address these weaknesses.

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