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Title: A Subbasin-based framework to represent land surface processes in an Earth System Model

Realistically representing spatial heterogeneity and lateral land surface processes within and between modeling units in earth system models is important because of their implications to surface energy and water exchange. The traditional approach of using regular grids as computational units in land surface models and earth system models may lead to inadequate representation of lateral movements of water, energy and carbon fluxes, especially when the grid resolution increases. Here a new subbasin-based framework is introduced in the Community Land Model (CLM), which is the land component of the Community Earth System Model (CESM). Local processes are represented assuming each subbasin as a grid cell on a pseudo grid matrix with no significant modifications to the existing CLM modeling structure. Lateral routing of water within and between subbasins is simulated with the subbasin version of a recently-developed physically based routing model, Model for Scale Adaptive River Routing (MOSART). As an illustration, this new framework is implemented in the topographically diverse region of the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The modeling units (subbasins) are delineated from high-resolution Digital Elevation Model while atmospheric forcing and surface parameters are remapped from the corresponding high resolution datasets. The impacts of this representation on simulating hydrologic processes aremore » explored by comparing it with the default (grid-based) CLM representation. In addition, the effects of DEM resolution on parameterizing topography and the subsequent effects on runoff processes are investigated. Limited model evaluation and comparison showed that small difference between the averaged forcing can lead to more significant difference in the simulated runoff and streamflow because of nonlinear horizontal processes. Topographic indices derived from high resolution DEM may not improve the overall water balance, but affect the partitioning between surface and subsurface runoff. More systematic analyses are needed to determine the relative merits of the subbasin representation compared to the commonly used grid-based representation, especially when land surface models are approaching higher resolutions.« less
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
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Journal Name: Geoscientific Model Development, 7(3):947-963
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
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Country of Publication:
United States
Subbasin-based representation, Community Land Model, Routing model