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Modifying a dynamic global vegetation model for simulating large spatial scale land surface water balance

Author(s): G. Tang | P. J. Bartlein

Journal: Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions
ISSN 1812-2108

Volume: 9;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1207;
Date: 2012;
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Water balance models of simple structure are easier to grasp and more clearly connect cause and effect than models of complex structure. Such models are essential for studying large spatial scale land surface water balance in the context of climate and land cover change, both natural and anthropogenic. This study aims to (i) develop a large spatial scale water balance model by modifying a dynamic global vegetation model (DGVM), and (ii) test the model's performance in simulating actual evapotranspiration (ET), soil moisture and surface runoff for the coterminous United States (US). Toward these ends, we first introduced development of the "LPJ-Hydrology" (LH) model by incorporating satellite-based land covers into the Lund-Potsdam-Jena (LPJ) DGVM instead of dynamically simulating them. We then ran LH using historical (1982–2006) climate data and satellite-based land covers at 2.5 arc-min grid cells. The simulated ET, soil moisture and surface runoff were compared to existing sets of observed or simulated data for the US. The results indicated that LH captures well the variation of monthly actual ET (R2 = 0.61, p < 0.01) in the Everglades of Florida over the years 1996–2001. The modeled monthly soil moisture for Illinois of the US agrees well (R2 = 0.79, p < 0.01) with the observed over the years 1984–2001. The modeled monthly stream flow for most 12 major rivers in the US is consistent R2 > 0.46, p < 0.01; Nash-Sutcliffe Coefficients >0.52) with observed values over the years 1982–2006, respectively. The modeled spatial patterns of annual ET and surface runoff are in accordance with previously published data. Compared to its predecessor, LH simulates better monthly stream flow in winter and early spring by incorporating effects of solar radiation on snowmelt. Overall, this study proves the feasibility of incorporating satellite-based land-covers into a DGVM for simulating large spatial scale land surface water balance. LH developed in this study should be a useful tool for studying effects of climate and land cover change on land surface hydrology at large spatial scales.
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