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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Incorporating root hydraulic redistribution in CLM4.5: Effects on predicted site and global evapotranspiration, soil moisture, and water storage


We implemented the Amenu-Kumar model in the Community Land Model (CLM4.5) to simulate plant Root Hydraulic Redistribution (RHR) and analyzed its influence on CLM hydrology from site to global scales. We evaluated two numerical implementations: The first solved the coupled equations of root and soil water transport concurrently, while the second solved the two equations sequentially. Through sensitivity analysis, we demonstrate that the sequentially coupled implementation (SCI) is numerically incorrect, whereas the tightly coupled implementation (TCI) is numerically robust with numerical time steps varying from 1 to 30 min. At the site-level, we found the SCI approach resulted in better agreement with measured evapotranspiration (ET) at the AmeriFlux Blodgett Forest site, California, whereas the two approaches resulted in equally poor agreement between predicted and measured ET at the LBA Tapajos KM67 Mature Forest site in Amazon, Brazil. Globally, the SCI approach overestimated annual land ET by as much as 3.5 mm d-1 in some grid cells when compared to the TCI estimates. These comparisons demonstrate that TCI is a more robust numerical implementation of RHR. However, we found, even with TCI, that incorporating RHR resulted in worse agreement with measured soil moisture at both the Blodgett Forest and Tapajos sites and degraded the agreement between simulated terrestrial water storage anomaly and Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) observations. We find including RHR in CLM4.5 improved ET predictions compared with the FLUXNET-MTE estimates north of 20© N but led to poorer predictions in the tropics. The biases in ET were robust and significant regardless of the four different pedotransfer functions or of the two meteorological forcing data sets we applied. We also found that the simulated water table was unrealistically sensitive to RHR. Therefore, we contend that further structural and data improvements are warranted to improve the hydrological dynamics in CLM4.5.

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