Atmospheric Controls on Soil Moisture-Boundary Layer Interactions. Part II: Feedbacks Within the Continental United States


Title Atmospheric Controls on Soil Moisture-Boundary Layer Interactions. Part II: Feedbacks Within the Continental United States
Publication Type Journal Article
Year of Publication 2003
Authors Findell KL, Eltahir EAB
Journal JOURNAL OF HYDROMETEOROLOGY
Volume 4
Date Published 2003
Abstract

The CTP-HIlow framework for describing atmospheric controls on soil moisture – boundary layer interactions is described in a companion paper, Part I. In this paper, the framework is applied to the continental United States to investigate how differing atmospheric regimes influence local feedbacks between the land surface and the atmosphere. The framework was developed with a one-dimensional boundary layer model and is based on two measures of atmospheric thermodynamic properties: the convective triggering potential (CTP), a measure of the temperature lapse rate between approximately 1 and 3 km above the ground surface, and a low-level humidity index, HIlow. These two measures are used to distinguish between three types of early-morning atmospheric conditions: those favoring moist convection over dry soils, those favoring moist convection over wet soils, and those that will allow or prevent deep convective activity, independent of the surface flux partitioning. Analyses of multiyear CTP-HIlow scatterplots from radiosonde stations across the contiguous 48 United States reveal that during the summer months ( June, July, and August) positive feedbacks between soil moisture and moist convection are likely in much of the eastern half of the country. Over the western half of the country, atmospheric conditions and the likelihood of moist convection are largely determined by oceanic influences, and land surface conditions in the summer are unlikely to impact convective triggering. The only area showing a potential negative feedback is in the dryline and monsoon region of the arid Southwest. This potential arises because of the topography of this and surrounding regions. A relatively narrow band of stations lies in between the eastern and western portions of the country, in some years behaving like the stations to the west and in other years behaving like the stations to the east.

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2003-Findell-Eltahir.pdf
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