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Global observational diagnosis of soil moisture control on the land surface energy balance

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posted on 19.04.2016, 09:36 by Belen Gallego-Elvira, Christopher M. Taylor, Phil P. Harris, Darren Ghent, Karen L. Veal, Sonja S. Folwell
An understanding of where and how strongly the surface energy budget is constrained by soil moisture is hindered by a lack of large-scale observations, and this contributes to uncertainty in climate models. Here we present a new approach combining satellite observations of land surface temperature and rainfall. We derive a Relative Warming Rate (RWR) diagnostic, which is a measure of how rapidly the land warms relative to the overlying atmosphere during 10 day dry spells. In our dry spell composites, 73% of the land surface between 60°S and 60°N warms faster than the atmosphere, indicating water-stressed conditions, and increases in sensible heat. Higher RWRs are found for shorter vegetation and bare soil than for tall, deep-rooted vegetation, due to differences in aerodynamic and hydrological properties. We show how the variation of RWR with antecedent rainfall helps to identify different evaporative regimes in the major nonpolar climate zones.

History

Citation

Geophysical Research Letters, 2016, Early View

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Physics and Astronomy

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Geophysical Research Letters

issn

0094-8276

eissn

1944-8007

Acceptance date

10/03/2016

Copyright date

2016

Available date

19/04/2016

Publisher version

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016GL068178/abstract

Language

en

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