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Crop growth and irrigation interact to influence surface fluxes in a regional climate-cropland model (WRF3.3-CLM4crop)


In this study, we coupled Version 4.0 of the Community Land Model that includes crop growth and management (CLM4crop) into the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model Version 3.3 to better represent interactions between climate and agriculture. We evaluated the performance of the coupled model (WRF3.3-CLM4crop) by comparing simulated crop growth and surface climate to multiple observational datasets across the continental United States. The results showed that although the model with dynamic crop growth overestimated leaf area index (LAI) and growing season length, interannual variability in peak LAI was improved relative to a model with prescribed crop LAI and growth period, which has no environmental sensitivity. Adding irrigation largely improved daily minimum temperature but the RMSE is still higher over irrigated land than non-irrigated land. Improvements in climate variables were limited by an overall model dry bias. However, with addition of an irrigation scheme, soil moisture and surface energy flux partitioning were largely improved at irrigated sites. Irrigation effects were sensitive to crop growth: the case with prescribed crop growth underestimated irrigation water use and effects on temperature and overestimated soil evaporation relative to the case with dynamic crop growth in moderately irrigated regions. We conclude that studies examining irrigation effects on weather and climate using coupled climate–land surface models should include dynamic crop growth and realistic irrigation schemes to better capture land surface effects in agricultural regions.

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