Evaluation of reanalysis soil moisture simulations using updated Chinese soil moisture observations

Haibin Li, Alan Robock, Suxia Liu, Xingguo Mo, Pedro Viterbo

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Using 19 yr of Chinese soil moisture data from 1981 to 1999, the authors evaluate soil moisture in three reanalysis outputs: the 40-yr European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Re-Analysis (ERA-40); the National Centers for Environmental Prediction-National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP-NCAR) reanalysis 1 (R-1); and the NCEP-Department of Energy (DOE) reanalysis 2 (R-2) over China. R-2 shows improved interannual variability and better seasonal patterns of soil moisture than R-1 as the result of the incorporation of observed precipitation, but not for all stations. ERA-40 produces a better mean value of soil moisture for most Chinese stations and good interannual variability. Limited observations in the spring indicate a spring soil moisture peak for most of the stations. ERA-40 generally reproduced this event, while R-1 or R-2 generally did not capture this feature, either because the soil was already saturated or the deep soil layer was too thick and damped such a response. ERA-40 and R-1 have a temporal time scale comparable to observations, but R-2 has a memory of nearly 5 months for the growing season, about twice the temporal scale of the observations. The cold season tends to prolong soil moisture memory by about 3 months for R-2 and 1 month for ERA-40. The unrealistic long temporal scale of R-2 can be attributed to the deep layer of the land surface model, which is too thick and dominates the soil moisture variability. R-1 has the same land surface scheme as R-2, but shows a temporal scale close to observations, which is actually because of soil moisture nudging to a fixed climatology. This new long time series of observed soil moisture will prove valuable for other studies of climate change, remote sensing, and model evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-193
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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