Isolating effects of terrain and soil moisture heterogeneity on the atmospheric boundary layer: Idealized simulations to diagnose land-atmosphere feedbacks

Jehan F. Rihani, Fotini K. Chow, Reed M. Maxwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

The effects of terrain, soil moisture heterogeneity, subsurface properties, and water table dynamics on the development and behavior of the atmospheric boundary layer are studied through a set of idealized numerical experiments. The mesoscale atmospheric model Advanced Regional Prediction System (ARPS) is used to isolate the effects of subsurface heterogeneity, terrain, and soil moisture initialization. The simulations are initialized with detailed soil moisture distributions obtained from offline spin-ups using a coupled surface-subsurface model (ParFlow-CLM). In these idealized simulations, we observe that terrain effects dominate the planetary boundary layer (PBL) development during early morning hours, while the soil moisture signature overcomes that of terrain during the afternoon. Water table and subsurface properties produce a similar effect as that of soil moisture as their signatures (reflected in soil moisture profiles, energy fluxes, and evaporation at the land surface) can also overcome that of terrain during afternoon hours. This is mostly clear for land surface energy fluxes and evaporation at the land surface. We also observe the coupling between water table depth and planetary boundary layer depth in our cases is strongest within wet-to-dry transition zones. This extends the findings of previous studies which demonstrate the subsurface connection to surface energy fluxes is strongest in such transition zones. We investigate how this connection extends into the atmosphere and can affect the structure and development of the convective boundary layer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-937
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 21 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Keywords

  • atmospheric boundary layer
  • land-atmosphere interactions
  • soil moisture heterogeneity

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