26 Sep 2023
 | 26 Sep 2023

Regionally optimized high resolution input datasets enhance the representation of snow cover and ecophysiological processes in CLM5

Johanna Teresa Malle, Giulia Mazzotti, Dirk Nikolaus Karger, and Tobias Jonas

Abstract. Land surface processes, crucial for exchanging carbon, nitrogen, water, and energy between the atmosphere and terrestrial Earth, significantly impact the climate system. Many of these processes vary considerably at small spatial and temporal scales, in particular in mountainous terrain and complex topography. To examine the impact of spatial resolution and quality of input data on modeled land surface processes, we conducted simulations using the Community Land Model 5 (CLM5) at different resolutions and based on a range of input datasets over the spatial extent of Switzerland. Using high-resolution meteorological forcing and land-use data, we found that increased resolution not only improved the representation of snow cover in CLM5 (up to 52 % enhancement) but also propagated through the model, directly affecting gross primary productivity and evapotranspiration. These findings highlight the significance of high spatial resolution and high-confidence input datasets in land surface models, enabling better quantification and constraint of process uncertainties. They have profound implications for climate impact studies. As improvements were observed across the cascade of dependencies in the land surface model, high spatial resolution as well as high-quality forcing data becomes necessary for accurately capturing the impacts of recent climate change. This study further highlights the utility of multi-resolution modeling experiments when aiming to improve process-based representation of variables in land surface models. By embracing high-resolution modeling, we can enhance our understanding of Earth's systems and their responses to climate change.

Johanna Teresa Malle et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1832', Anonymous Referee #1, 13 Nov 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1832', Anonymous Referee #2, 14 Nov 2023
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1832', Anonymous Referee #3, 19 Nov 2023

Johanna Teresa Malle et al.

Johanna Teresa Malle et al.


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Short summary
Land surface processes are crucial for the exchange of carbon, nitrogen and energy in the earth system. Using detailed meteorological and land-use data, we found that higher resolution improved not only the model representation of snow cover, but also plant productivity and water returned to the atmosphere. Only by combining high-resolution models with high-quality input data can we accurately represent complex spatially heterogeneous processes and improve our understanding of the earth system.