This study combines a variably-saturated groundwater flow model and a mesoscale atmospheric model to examine the effects of soil moisture heterogeneity on atmospheric boundary layer processes. This parallel, integrated model can simulate spatial variations in land-surface forcing driven by three-dimensional (3D) atmospheric and subsurface components. The development of atmospheric flow is studied in a series of idealized test cases with different initial soil moisture distributions generated by an offline spin-up procedure or interpolated from a coarse-resolution dataset. These test cases are performed with both the fully-coupled model (which includes 3D groundwater flow and surface water routing) and the uncoupled atmospheric model. The effects of the different soil moisture initializations and lateral subsurface and surface water flow are seen in the differences in atmospheric evolution over a 36-h period. The fully-coupled model maintains a realistic topographically-driven soil moisture distribution, while the uncoupled atmospheric model does not. Furthermore, the coupled model shows spatial and temporal correlations between surface and lower atmospheric variables and water table depth. These correlations are particularly strong during times when the land-surface temperatures trigger shifts in wind behavior, such as during early morning surface heating.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Water Science and Technology
- Coupled model
- Groundwater-atmosphere coupling
- Land-atmosphere interactions
- Soil moisture heterogeneity