The impact of soil depth on land surface energy and water fluxes in the North American Monsoon region

David J. Gochis, Enrique Vivoni, Christopher J. Watts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study explores the influence of variable soil depths on simulated land-atmosphere exchanges from a currently operational land surface model over the North American Monsoon (NAM) region of southwestern North America. It is shown that the neglect of observed (actual) soil depths can limit land surface model performance at the sites studied. The main impact of accounting for shallower soil depths is to increase the dispersion, (i.e. the dynamic range) of sensible and latent heat fluxes when compared with simulations using a common fixed soil column depth of 2 meters. It is also shown that accounting for local soil depth variability can, moderately, improve land surface model flux estimation as compared with tower measurements. This result is directly consistent with recent studies relating the sensitivity of the timescale of soil moisture variability to plant rooting depth since this impacts the total amount of water available for evapotranspiration. Basic sensitivity analysis on additional model parameters impacted by specification of soil depth (e.g. 'deep soil temperature' and the lower boundary condition for moisture flow) is also performed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)564-571
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Volume74
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2010

Fingerprint

surface energy
soil depth
land surface
monsoon
surface water
energy
water
shallow soil
latent heat flux
sensible heat flux
soil column
rooting
soil temperature
evapotranspiration
sensitivity analysis
boundary condition
soil moisture
moisture
soil water
timescale

Keywords

  • Evaporation
  • Land surface models
  • Micrometeorology
  • North American Monsoon
  • Soil depth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Ecology

Cite this

The impact of soil depth on land surface energy and water fluxes in the North American Monsoon region. / Gochis, David J.; Vivoni, Enrique; Watts, Christopher J.

In: Journal of Arid Environments, Vol. 74, No. 5, 05.2010, p. 564-571.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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