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

Gallego-Elvira, Belen; Taylor, Christopher M.; Harris, Phil P.; Ghent, Darren; Veal, Karen L.; Folwell, Sonja S.. 2016 Global observational diagnosis of soil moisture control on the land surface energy balance. Geophysical Research Letters, 43 (6). 2623-2631.

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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.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Reynard
ISSN: 0094-8276
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: sensible heat flux, evapotranspiration, land surface temperature
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Meteorology and Climatology
Date made live: 31 Mar 2016 11:55 +0 (UTC)

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