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Title: Global observational diagnosis of soil moisture control on the land surface energy balance
Authors: Gallego-Elvira, Belen
Taylor, Christopher M.
Harris, Phil P.
Ghent, Darren
Veal, Karen L.
Folwell, Sonja S.
First Published: 15-Mar-2016
Citation: Geophysical Research Letters, 2016, Early View
Abstract: An understanding of where and how strongly the surface energy budget is constrained by soil moisture is hindered by a lack of large-scale observations, and this contributes to uncertainty in climate models. Here we present a new approach combining satellite observations of land surface temperature and rainfall. We derive a Relative Warming Rate (RWR) diagnostic, which is a measure of how rapidly the land warms relative to the overlying atmosphere during 10 day dry spells. In our dry spell composites, 73% of the land surface between 60°S and 60°N warms faster than the atmosphere, indicating water-stressed conditions, and increases in sensible heat. Higher RWRs are found for shorter vegetation and bare soil than for tall, deep-rooted vegetation, due to differences in aerodynamic and hydrological properties. We show how the variation of RWR with antecedent rainfall helps to identify different evaporative regimes in the major nonpolar climate zones.
DOI Link: 10.1002/2016GL068178
ISSN: 0094-8276
eISSN: 1944-8007
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2016. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( ), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy

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