On the nature of soil moisture in land surface models

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Abstract

Abstract The soil moisture state simulated by a land surface model is a highly model-dependent quantity, meaning that the direct transfer of one model’s soil moisture into another can lead to a fundamental, and potentially detrimental, inconsistency. This is first illustrated with two recent examples, one from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) involving seasonal precipitation forecasting and another from the realm of ecological modeling. The issue is then further addressed through a quantitative analysis of soil moisture contents produced as part of a global offline simulation experiment in which a number of land surface models were driven with the same atmospheric forcing fields. These latter comparisons clearly demonstrate, on a global scale, the degree to which model-simulated soil moisture variables differ from each other and that these differences extend beyond those associated with model-specific layer thicknesses or soil texture. The offline comparisons also show, however, th...

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Koster, R. D., Guo, Z., Yang, R., Dirmeyer, P. A., Mitchell, K., & Puma, M. J. (2009). On the nature of soil moisture in land surface models. Journal of Climate, 22(16), 4322–4335. https://doi.org/10.1175/2009JCLI2832.1

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