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Comparison and assessment of three advanced land surface models in simulating terrestrial water storage components over the United States

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To prepare for the next-generation North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS), three advanced land surface models [LSMs; i.e., Community Land Model, version 4.0 (CLM4.0); Noah LSM with multiphysics options (Noah-MP); and Catchment LSM-Fortuna 2.5 (CLSM-F2.5)] were run for the 1979-2014 period within the NLDAS-based framework. Unlike the LSMs currently executing in the operational NLDAS, these three advanced LSMs each include a groundwater component. In this study, the model simulations of monthly terrestrial water storage anomaly (TWSA) and its individual water storage components are evaluated against satellite-based and in situ observations, as well as against reference reanalysis products, at basinwide and statewide scales. The quality of these TWSA simulations will contribute to determining the suitability of these models for the next phase of the NLDAS. Overall, it is found that all three models are able to reasonably capture the monthly and interannual variability and magnitudes of TWSA. However, the relative contributions of the individual water storage components to TWSA are very dependent on the model and basin. A major contributor to the TWSA is the anomaly of total column soil moisture content for CLM4.0 and Noah-MP, while the groundwater storage anomaly is the major contributor for CLSM-F2.5. Other water storage components such as the anomaly of snow water equivalent also play a role in all three models. For each individual water storage component, the models are able to capture broad features such as monthly and interannual variability. However, there are large intermodel differences and quantitative uncertainties, which are motivating follow-on investigations in the NLDAS Science Testbed developed by the NASA and NCEP NLDAS teams.

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