Estimating land surface variables and sensitivity analysis for CLM and VIC simulations using remote sensing products

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Science of the Total Environment


Assessment of Land Surface Models (LSMs) at heterogeneous terrain and climate regimes is essential for understanding complex hydrological and biophysical parameterization. This study utilized the two LSMs, Community Land Model (CLM 4.0) and three layer Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC-3L), to estimate the interaction between land surface and atmosphere by means of energy fluxes including net radiation (RN), sensible heat flux (H), latent heat flux (LE), and ground heat flux (G). The modeled energy fluxes were analyzed at two sites: Freeman Ranch-2 (FR2) located in the lowland region of Texas (272 m), and Providence 301 (P301) located on the mountains of Sierra Nevada in California (2015 m) from 2003 to 2013. RN was underestimated by CLM with bias −25.06 W m−2 due to its snow hydrology scheme at P301. LE was overestimated by the VIC during summer precipitation and had a positive bias of 5.51 W m−2, whereas CLM showed a negative bias of −6.58 W m−2 at the FR2 site. G was considered as a residual term in CLM, which caused weak performance at P301, while VIC calculated G as a function of soil temperature, depth, and hydraulic conductivity. In addition, The MOD16 showed similar results with models at FR2; however, at P301, they yielded a correlation value of 0.85 and 0.21 for LSMs and MOD16, respectively. The later has lower correlation with in situ specifically in summer season caused by erroneous biophysical or meteorological inputs to the algorithms. The sensitivity analysis between soil moisture and turbulent fluxes, exhibited negative trend (especially for LE at P301) due to topography and snow cover. The results from this study are conducive to improvements in models and satellite based characterization of water and energy fluxes, especially at rugged terrain with high elevation, where observational experiments are difficult to conduct.

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