Soil and vegetation exert strong control over the evapotranspiration rate, which couples the land surface water and energy balances. A method is presented to quantify the timescale of this surface control using daily general circulation model (GCM) simulation values of evapotranspiration and precipitation. By equating the time history of evaporation efficiency (ratio of actual to potential evapotranspiration) to the convolution of precipitation and a unit kernel (temporal weighting function), response functions are generated that can be used to characterize the timescales of evapotranspiration response for the land surface model (LSM) component of GCMs. The technique is applied to the output of two multiyear simulations of a GCM, one using a Surface-Vegetation-Atmosphere-Transfer (SVAT) scheme and the other a Bucket LSM. The derived response functions show that the Bucket LSM’’s response is significantly slower than that of the SVAT across the globe. The analysis also shows how the timescales of interception reservoir evaporation, bare soil evaporation, and vegetation transpiration differ within the SVAT LSM.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Sep 18, 1995
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