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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Application of multiscale water and energy balance models on a tallgrass prairie

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The models presented in the previous paper (Famiglietti and Wood, this issue) are applied at their appropriate scales for evapotranspiration modeling at the First International Satellite Land Surface Climatology Project Field Experiment (FIFE) site. The local soil-vegetation-atmospheric transfer scheme is applied at five flux measurement stations in the northwest quadrant of the FIFE site. Simulations were performed for three of the four FIFE “golden (cloud-free) days” with good results. The spatially distributed model was applied at the 11.7-km2 King's Creek catchment, also located in the northwest quadrant of the FIFE site, during FIFE Intensive Field Campaigns (IFCs) 1–4. Simulated catchment average evapotranspiration was compared to an average of observations made at the five aforementioned measurement stations with good results. The macroscale formulation was applied to both the King's Creek catchment and the entire 15-km FIFE site for evapotranspiration simulations. Macroscale model simulations for King's Creek were nearly identical to the spatially distributed results, implying that at this location and at this scale, the assumptions invoked in the development of the macroscale formulation are reasonable. The macroscale model was also employed to simulate evapotranspiration from the entire 15-km site for the four golden days. Simulated evapotranspiration rates show reasonably good agreement with the 22-station average of observations. However, it is suggested that at 15-km and larger scales, simulation error may arise as a result of the macroscale assumptions of areally averaged atmospheric forcing, vegetation parameters, soil parameters, and the methods by which these data and other flux observations are aggregated. A methodology to combat these problems at larger scales is reviewed.

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