Atmospheric Controls on Soil Moisture-Boundary Layer Interactions. Part I: Framework Development

Title Atmospheric Controls on Soil Moisture-Boundary Layer Interactions. Part I: Framework Development
Publication Type Journal Article
Year of Publication 2003
Authors Findell, K. L. & Eltahir, E. A. B.
Volume 4
Date Published 2003
Abstract paper investigates the influence of soil moisture on the development and triggering of convection in different early-morning atmospheric conditions. A one-dimensional model of the atmospheric boundary layer (BL) is initialized with atmospheric sounding data from Illinois and with the soil moisture set to either extremely wet ( saturated) or extremely dry (20% of saturation) conditions. Two measures are developed to assess the low-level temperature and humidity structure of the early-morning atmosphere. These two measures are used to distinguish between four types of soundings, based on the likely outcome of the model: 1) those soundings favoring deep convection over dry soils, 2) those favoring deep convection over wet soils, 3) those unlikely to convect over any land surface, and 4) those likely to convect over any land surface. Examples of the first two cases are presented in detail. The early-morning atmosphere is characterized in this work by the newly developed convective triggering potential (CTP) and a low-level humidity index, HIlow. The CTP measures the departure from a moist adiabatic temperature lapse rate in the region between 100 and 300 mb ( about 1 – 3 km) above the ground surface (AGS). This region is the critical interface between the near-surface region, which is almost always incorporated into the growing BL, and free atmospheric air, which is almost never incorporated into the BL. Together, these two measures form the CTP-HIlow framework for analyzing atmospheric controls on soil moisture – boundary layer interactions. Results show that in Illinois deep convection is trigged in the model 22% of the time over wet soils and only 13% of the time over dry soils. Additional testing varying the radiative conditions in Illinois and also using the 1D model with soundings from four additional stations confirm that the CTP-HIlow framework is valid for regions far removed from Illinois.

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