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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-619
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 30 Nov 2017

Research article | 30 Nov 2017

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript for further review has not been submitted.

The role of improved soil moisture for the characteristics of surface energy fluxes in the ECMWF reanalyses

Wilhelm May Wilhelm May
  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Research, Lund University, Lund, SE-223 62, Sweden

Abstract. In this study, the role that more realistic soil moisture has for the characteristics of surface energy fluxes in two sets of reanalyses performed at ECMWF is investigated. These are the standard set of reanalyses ERA-Interim (ERAInt) and the ERA-Interim/Land reanalyses of the land surface conditions (ERAInt/Land). In the latter, the ECMWF's land surface model has been forced with the meteorological fields from ERAInt, including an adjustment of precipitation based on the monthly mean values from the Global Precipitation Climatology Project data set. Adjusting precipitation has a distinct impact on the soil moisture content in the two sets of reanalyses. ERAInt is characterized by a general tendency to underestimate (overestimate) soil moisture in regions with a relatively high (low) soil moisture content. The differences in soil moisture between ERAInt and ERAInt/Land vary only slightly in the course of the year. This is not the case for precipitation, where the differences between the two sets of reanalyses vary markedly between different seasons. The direct impact of the regional differences in precipitation between ERAInt and ERAInt/Land on the corresponding deviations in soil moisture varies considerably by region. One reason is that the regional differences in precipitation vary by season, while the regional differences in soil moisture typically persist throughout the year. Another reason is that the specific nature of the interaction between precipitation and soil moisture diverges between different regions, depending on the climate conditions and on the degree to which the soil is saturated with moisture. The differences in soil moisture between the two sets of reanalyses have notable effects on the characteristics of surface energy fluxes. The nature of these effects differs by region and also by season, that is the coupling between soil moisture and the latent or the sensible heat flux is positive in one region or season, respectively, and negative in another one. In any case, the differences in the soil moisture content typically affect the latent and the sensible heat flux in opposite ways. Increases (decreases) in latent heat flux typically coincide with decreases (increases) in sensible heat flux. By this, the differences in soil moisture have a substantial impact on the partitioning of latent and sensible heat flux. The effect of the soil moisture differences on the evaporative fraction, for instance, is mainly governed by the impact on the latent heat flux because of the opposite effects on latent and sensible heat fluxes and, hence, only a weak impact on the total surface energy flux. The effect on the Bowen ratio, on the other hand, is for the most part controlled by the impact on the sensible heat flux, with higher (lower) values of the Bowen ratio in regions with increased (decreased) sensible heat flux.

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Wilhelm May
Wilhelm May
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In this study, the role that more realistic soil moisture has for the characteristics of surface energy fluxes in two sets of reanalyses performed at ECMWF is investigated. These are the standard set of reanalyses ERA-Interim and the ERA-Interim/Land reanalyses of the land surface conditions. In the latter, the ECMWF's land surface model has been forced with the meteorological fields from ERAInt, including an adjustment of precipitation using obserbed monthly mean estimates.
In this study, the role that more realistic soil moisture has for the characteristics of surface...
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