Improving the responses of the Australian community land surface model (CABLE) to seasonal drought

Amer Geophysical Union
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 2012, 117 pp. G04002 - ?
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Correct representations of root functioning, such as root water uptake and hydraulic redistribution, are critically important for modeling the responses of vegetation to droughts and seasonal changes in soil moisture content. However, these processes are poorly represented in global land surface models. In this study, we incorporated two root functions: a root water uptake function which assumes root water uptake efficiency varies with rooting depth, and a hydraulic redistribution function into a global land surface model, CABLE. The water uptake function developed by Lai and Katul (2000) was also compared with the default one (see Wang et al., 2010) that assumes that efficiency of water uptake per unit root length is constant. Using eddy flux measurements of CO2 and water vapor fluxes at three sites experiencing different patterns of seasonal changes in soil water content, we showed that the two root functions significantly improved the agreement between the simulated fluxes of net ecosystem exchange and latent heat flux and soil moisture dynamics with those observed during the dry season while having little impact on the model simulation during the wet seasons at all three sites. Sensitivity analysis showed that varying several model parameters influencing soil water dynamics in CABLE did not significantly affect the model's performance. We conclude that these root functions represent a valuable improvement for land surface modeling and should be implemented into CABLE and other land surface models for studying carbon and water dynamics where rainfall varies seasonally or interannually.
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