Collaborative Research: Generation of Improved Land-surface Data and an Assessment of its Impact on Mesoscale Predictions

Project: Research project

Project Details


A major problem area for improved numerical modeling of near surface variables is the sensitivity of model predictions to the accuracy of key land surface parameters. In particular, the forecasts of near surface quantities such as 2 m temperatures and relative humidity and 10 m winds are influenced strongly by the state of the land surface, as is precipitation. The ability to predict these parameters is important to a wide variety of human activities, ranging from planning outdoor and weekend activities to transportation routing and energy conservation. Vegetation characteristics such as fractional vegetation coverage (FVEG) and leaf area index (LAI) arguably are the most important land surface parameters that need to be defined accurately. However, present practices for defining these parameters are overly simplistic and typically are based only on climatology. Yet vegetation responds to daily variations in rainfall and is far from static. Recent studies by the PIs demonstrated potentially large impacts from specifying both FVEG and LAI, at high spatial and temporal resolution, in a state-of-the-art coupled atmosphere-land surface modeling system.

This research is a unique collaboration of expertise between three institutions in the key areas of mesoscale atmospheric modeling, land surface modeling and the generation of real-time, high resolution, satellite-derived land surface parameters. The intellectual merit of this work consist of: 1) an evaluation and improvement of various land surface models from the routine daily predictions of near surface variables, 2) the first four-dimensional assimilation system of both standard observational network data and raw flux data from the Oklahoma Mesonet, and 3) the development of an automated knowledge-based system based upon daily polar-orbiting satellite data to provide daily updates of land surface variables. The focus region for this study is the Great Plains, especially during the growing season of 2003 (March to October).

The broader impacts of this research are eventual improvements to short-range predictions of near surface variables such as temperature and moisture, thereby affecting power load, air quality, and convective weather forecasting, all of which have significant economic implications.

Effective start/end date5/1/034/30/07


  • National Science Foundation: $270,997.00


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