Large-scale surface responses during European dry spells diagnosed from land surface temperature

Folwell, Sonja S.; Harris, Phil P.; Taylor, Christopher M. ORCID: 2016 Large-scale surface responses during European dry spells diagnosed from land surface temperature. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 17 (3). 975-993.

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Soil moisture plays a fundamental role in regulating the summertime surface energy balance across Europe. Understanding the spatial and temporal behaviour in soil moisture and its control on evapotranspiration (ET) is critically important, and influences heat wave events. Global climate models (GCMs) exhibit a broad range of land responses to soil moisture in regions which lie between wet and dry soil regimes. In situ observations of soil moisture and evaporation are limited in space, and given the spatial heterogeneity of the landscape, are unrepresentative of the GCM grid box scale. On the other hand, satellite-borne observations of land surface temperature (LST) can provide important information at the larger scale. As a key component of the surface energy balance, LST is used to provide an indirect measure of surface drying across the landscape. In order to isolate soil moisture constraints on evaporation, time series of clear sky LST are analysed during dry spells lasting at least 10 days from March to October. Averaged over thousands of dry spell events across Europe, and accounting for atmospheric temperature variations, regional surface warming of between 0.5 and 0.8 K is observed over the first 10 days of a dry spell. Land surface temperatures are found to be sensitive to antecedent rainfall; stronger dry spell warming rates are observed following relatively wet months, indicative of soil moisture memory effects on the monthly time scale. Furthermore, clear differences in surface warming rate are found between cropland and forest, consistent with contrasting hydrological and aerodynamic properties.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Reynard
ISSN: 1525-755X
NORA Subject Terms: Atmospheric Sciences
Date made live: 16 Sep 2015 13:00 +0 (UTC)

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