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Publication Date
29 August 2022

Representing surface heterogeneity in land–atmosphere coupling in E3SMv1 single-column model over ARM SGP during summertime



The Earth's land surface features spatial and temporal heterogeneity over a wide range of scales below those resolved by current Earth system models (ESMs). State-of-the-art land and atmosphere models employ parameterizations to represent their subgrid heterogeneity, but the land–atmosphere coupling in ESMs typically operates on the grid scale. Communicating the information on the land surface heterogeneity with the overlying atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) remains a challenge in modeling land–atmosphere interactions. In order to account for the subgrid-scale heterogeneity in land–atmosphere coupling, we implement a new coupling scheme in the Energy Exascale Earth system model version 1 (E3SMv1) that uses adjusted surface variances and covariance of potential temperature and specific water content as the lower boundary condition for the atmosphere model. The new lower boundary condition accounts for both the variability of individual subgrid land surface patches and the inter-patch variability. The E3SMv1 single-column model (SCM) simulations over the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Southern Great Plain (SGP) site were performed to assess the impacts. We find that the new coupling parameterization increases the magnitude and diurnal cycle of the temperature variance and humidity variance in the lower ABL on non-precipitating days. The impacts are primarily attributed to subgrid inter-patch variability rather than the variability of individual patches. These effects extend vertically from the surface to several levels in the lower ABL on clear days. We also find that accounting for surface heterogeneity increases low cloud cover and liquid water path (LWP). These cloud changes are associated with the change in cloud regime indicated by the skewness of the probability density function (PDF) of the subgrid vertical velocity. In precipitating days, the inter-patch variability reduces significantly so that the impact of accounting for surface heterogeneity vanishes. These results highlight the importance of accounting for subgrid heterogeneity in land–atmosphere coupling in next-generation ESMs.

Huang, Meng, Po-Lun Ma, Nathaniel W. Chaney, Dalei Hao, Gautam Bisht, Megan D. Fowler, Vincent E. Larson, and L. Ruby Leung. 2022. “Representing Surface Heterogeneity In Land–Atmosphere Coupling In E3Smv1 Single-Column Model Over Arm Sgp During Summertime”. Geoscientific Model Development 15 (16). Copernicus GmbH: 6371-6384. doi:10.5194/gmd-15-6371-2022.
Funding Program Area(s)
Additional Resources:
NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center)