02 Feb 2023
 | 02 Feb 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Investigating the Response of Land-Atmosphere Interactions and Feedbacks to Spatial Representation of Irrigation in a Coupled Modeling Framework

Patricia Lawston-Parker, Joseph A. Santanello Jr., and Nathaniel W. Chaney

Abstract. The characteristics of the land surface play a critical role in determining the transfer of water, heat, and momentum to the atmosphere. Together with the model physics, parameterization schemes, and parameters employed, land datasets determine the spatial variability in land surface states (i.e., soil moisture and temperature) and fluxes. Despite the importance of these datasets, they are often chosen out of convenience or regional limitations without due assessment of their impacts on model results. Irrigation is an anthropogenic form of land heterogeneity that has been shown to alter the land surface energy balance, ambient weather, and local circulations. As such, irrigation schemes are becoming more prevalent in weather and climate models with rapid developments in dataset availability and parameterization scheme complexity. Thus, to address pragmatic issues related to modeling irrigation, this study uses a high-resolution, regional coupled modeling system to investigate the impacts of irrigation dataset selection on land-atmosphere (L-A) coupling using a case study from the Great Plains Irrigation Experiment (GRAINEX) field campaign. The simulations are assessed in the context of irrigated versus non-irrigated regions, subregions across the irrigation gradient, and sub-grid scale process representation in coarser scale models. The results show that L-A coupling is sensitive to the choice of irrigation dataset and resolution and that the irrigation impact on surface fluxes and near surface meteorology can be dominant, conditioned on the details of the irrigation map (i.e., boundaries, heterogeneity, etc), or minimal. A consistent finding across several analyses was that even a low percentage of irrigation fraction can have significant local and downstream atmospheric impacts, suggesting that representation of boundaries and heterogeneous areas within irrigated regions is particularly important for the modeling of irrigation impacts on the atmosphere in this model. When viewing the simulations presented here as a proxy for ‘ideal’ tiling in a Earth System Model scale gridbox, the results show that some ‘tiles’ will reach critical nonlinear moisture and PBL thresholds that could be important for clouds and convection, implying that heterogeneity resulting from irrigation should be taken into consideration in new sub-grid land-atmosphere exchange parameterizations.

Patricia Lawston-Parker et al.

Status: open (until 04 Apr 2023)

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Patricia Lawston-Parker et al.

Patricia Lawston-Parker et al.


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Short summary
Irrigation is sometimes included in weather models because it can make the air cooler and more humid, possibly even changing local cloud and rainfall patterns. We used 3 different irrigation maps in a weather model, evaluated with field campaign data, and found that the irrigation map, especially how it represents irrigation boundaries, is important in determining the humidity, temperature, and other weather metrics produced by the model.