S109 Modeling the Effects of Soil Moisture on the 2016 New York Summer Drought

Sunday, 7 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 5 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Marc J Alessi, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY; and A. DeGaetano and T. Ault

During the summer of 2016, parts of the Northeastern United States underwent a prolonged drought, fueled by anomalously low precipitation amounts from the preceding winter and spring, and through the summer. In this study, we utilize the Weather and Research Forecasting model (WRF) as a regional climate model to analyze the effects low soil moisture may have played in the decrease in total precipitation for the summer of 2016. We incorporate eleven different multi-physics combinations (MPC) to create an ensemble that is weighted based on each MPC’s skill for the summers of 2007 through 2016. The final part of the experiment involves changing 2016 soil moisture values to a dry scenario and a moist scenario to identify a land-atmosphere coupling between soil moisture and precipitation amounts. Preliminary results confirm that a decrease in soil moisture across the Northeastern U.S. results in a decrease in total summer precipitation. Therefore, the dry soil conditions resulted in a positive feedback, inhibiting subsequent rainfall and thus contributing to the length and severity of the summer 2016 drought.
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