Assessing the Sensitivity of a Land-Surface Scheme to the Parameter Values Using a Single Column Model

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  • 1 School of Earth Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, New Sough Wales, Australia
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Abstract

The sensitivity of a land-surface scheme (the Biosphere Atmosphere Transfer Scheme, BATS) to its parameter values was investigated using a single column model. Identifying which parameters were important in controlling the turbulent energy fluxes, temperature, soil moisture, and runoff was dependent upon many factors. In the simulation of a nonmoisture-stressed tropical forest, results were dependent on a combination of reservoir terms (soil depth, root distribution), flux efficiency terms (roughness length, stomatal resistance), and available energy (albedo). If moisture became limited, the reservoir terms increased in importance because the total fluxes predicted depended on moisture availability and not on the rate of transfer between the surface and the atmosphere. The sensitivity shown by BATS depended on which vegetation type was being simulated, which variable was used to determine sensitivity, the magnitude and sign of the parameter change, the climate regime (precipitation amount and frequency), and soil moisture levels and proximity to wilting. The interactions between these factors made it difficult to identify the most important parameters in BATS. Therefore, this paper does not argue that a particular set of parameters is important in BATS, rather it shows that no general ranking of parameters is possible. It is also emphasized that using “stand-alone” forcing to examine the sensitivity of a land-surface scheme to perturbations, in either parameters or the atmosphere, is unreliable due to the lack of surface-atmospheric feedbacks.

Abstract

The sensitivity of a land-surface scheme (the Biosphere Atmosphere Transfer Scheme, BATS) to its parameter values was investigated using a single column model. Identifying which parameters were important in controlling the turbulent energy fluxes, temperature, soil moisture, and runoff was dependent upon many factors. In the simulation of a nonmoisture-stressed tropical forest, results were dependent on a combination of reservoir terms (soil depth, root distribution), flux efficiency terms (roughness length, stomatal resistance), and available energy (albedo). If moisture became limited, the reservoir terms increased in importance because the total fluxes predicted depended on moisture availability and not on the rate of transfer between the surface and the atmosphere. The sensitivity shown by BATS depended on which vegetation type was being simulated, which variable was used to determine sensitivity, the magnitude and sign of the parameter change, the climate regime (precipitation amount and frequency), and soil moisture levels and proximity to wilting. The interactions between these factors made it difficult to identify the most important parameters in BATS. Therefore, this paper does not argue that a particular set of parameters is important in BATS, rather it shows that no general ranking of parameters is possible. It is also emphasized that using “stand-alone” forcing to examine the sensitivity of a land-surface scheme to perturbations, in either parameters or the atmosphere, is unreliable due to the lack of surface-atmospheric feedbacks.

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