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Title: Enhancing the Representation of Subgrid Land Surface Characteristics in Land Surface Models

Land surface heterogeneity has long been recognized and increasingly incorporated in the land surface modelling. In most existing land surface models, the spatial variability of surface cover is represented as subgrid composition of multiple surface cover types. In this study, we developed a new subgrid classification method (SGC) that accounts for the topographic variability of the vegetation cover. Each model grid cell was represented with a number of elevation classes and each elevation class was further described by a number of vegetation types. The numbers of elevation classes and vegetation types were variable and optimized for each model grid so that the spatial variability of both elevation and vegetation can be reasonably explained given a pre-determined total number of classes. The subgrid structure of the Community Land Model (CLM) was used as an example to illustrate the newly developed method in this study. With similar computational burden as the current subgrid vegetation representation in CLM, the new method is able to explain at least 80% of the total subgrid PFTs and greatly reduced the variations of elevation within each subgrid class compared to the baseline method where a single elevation class is assigned to each subgrid PFT. The new methodmore » was also evaluated against two other subgrid methods (SGC1 and SGC2) that assigned fixed numbers of elevation and vegetation classes for each model grid with different perspectives of surface cover classification. Implemented at five model resolutions (0.1°, 0.25°, 0.5°, 1.0° and 2.0°) with three maximum-allowed total number of classes N_class of 24, 18 and 12 representing different computational burdens over the North America (NA) continent, the new method showed variable performances compared to the SGC1 and SGC2 methods. However, the advantage of the SGC method over the other two methods clearly emerged at coarser model resolutions and with moderate computational intensity (N_class = 18) as it explained the most PFTs and elevation variability among the three subgrid methods. Spatially, the SGC method explained more elevation variability in topography-complex areas and more vegetation variability in flat areas. Furthermore, the variability of both elevation and vegetation explained by the new method was more spatially homogeneous regardless of the model resolutions and computational burdens. The SGC method will be implemented in CLM over the NA continent to assess its impacts on simulating land surface processes.« less
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Journal Article
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Journal Name: Geoscientific Model Development, 6:1609-1622
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States
Subgrid land surface; characteristics; land surface models