Indian Forum for Water Adroit

Global Investigation of Soil Moisture and Latent Heat Flux Coupling Strength

Pankaj Dey

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  • Institute : Indian Institute of Science
  • Programming language : MATLAB, R

As a key variable in the climate system, soil moisture (SM) plays a central role in the earth's terrestrial water, energy, and biogeochemical cycles through its coupling with surface latent heat flux (LH). Despite the need to accurately represent SM/LH coupling in earth system models, we currently lack quantitative, observation‐based, and unbiased estimates of its strength. Here, we utilize the triple collocation (TC) approach introduced in Crow et al. (2015) to SM and LH products obtained from multiple satellite remote sensing platforms and land surface models (LSMs) to obtain unbiased global maps of SM/LH coupling strength. Results demonstrate that, relative to coupling strength estimates acquired directly from remote sensing‐based datasets, the application of TC generally enhances estimates of warm‐season SM/LH coupling, especially in the western United States, the Sahel, Central Asia, and Australia. However, relative to triple collocation estimates, LSMs (still) over‐predict SM/LH coupling strength along transitional climate regimes between wet and dry climates, such as the central Great Plains of North America, India, and coastal Australia. Specific climate zones with biased relations in LSMs are identified to geographically focus the re‐examination of LSM parameterizations. TC‐based coupling strength estimates are robust to our choice of LSM contributing SM and LH products to the TC analysis. Given their robustness, TC‐based coupling strength estimates can serve as an objective benchmark for investigating model predicted SM/LH coupling.