A Modeling and Observational Framework for Diagnosing Local Land-Atmosphere Coupling on Diurnal Time Scales

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Thursday, 21 January 2010: 9:00 AM
B216 (GWCC)
Christa Peters-Lidard, NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, MD; and J. A. Santanello Jr., S. V. Kumar, C. Alonge, and W. K. Tao

Land-atmosphere interactions play a critical role in determining the diurnal evolution of both planetary boundary layer (PBL) and land surface temperature and moisture states. The degree of coupling between the land surface and PBL in numerical weather prediction and climate models remains largely unexplored and undiagnosed due to the complex interactions and feedbacks present across a range of scales. Further, uncoupled systems or experiments (e.g., the Project for Intercomparison of Land Parameterization Schemes, PILPS) may lead to inaccurate water and energy cycle process understanding by neglecting feedback processes such as PBL-top as entrainment. In this study, a framework for diagnosing local land-atmosphere coupling is presented using a coupled mesoscale model with a suite of PBL and land surface model (LSM) options along with observations during field experiments in the U. S. Southern Great Plains. Specifically, the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model has been coupled to the Land Information System (LIS), which provides a flexible and high-resolution representation and initialization of land surface physics and states. Within this framework, the coupling established by each pairing of the available PBL schemes in WRF with the LSMs in LIS is evaluated in terms of the diurnal temperature and humidity evolution in the mixed layer. The co-evolution of these variables and the convective PBL is sensitive to and, in fact, integrative of the dominant processes that govern the PBL budget, which are then quantified and evaluated through the use of mixing diagrams. Results show how the sensitivity of land-atmosphere interactions to the specific choice of PBL scheme and LSM varies across surface moisture regimes and can be quantified and evaluated against observations. As such, this methodology provides a pathway to study factors controlling local land-atmosphere coupling (LoCo) using the LIS-WRF system, which will serve as the a testbed for future experiments to evaluate coupling diagnostics within the community.