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Journal Article

The continental-scale soil-moisture precipitation feedback in Europe with parameterized and explicit convection


Leutwyler,  David
Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zürich;
Precipitating Convection, The Atmosphere in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Leutwyler, D., Imamovic, A., & Schär, C. (2021). The continental-scale soil-moisture precipitation feedback in Europe with parameterized and explicit convection. Journal of Climate, 34, 5303-5320. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-20-0415.1.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-E325-F
Soil moisture atmosphere interactions are key elements of the regional climate system. There is a well-founded hope that a more accurate representation of the soil moisture-precipitation feedback would improve the simulation of summer precipitation on daily to seasonal, to climate time scales. However, uncertainties have persistently remained as the simulated feedback is strongly sensitive to the model representation of deep convection. Here we assess the feedback representation using a GPU-accelerated version of the regional climate model COSMO. We simulate and compare the impact of continental-scale springtime soil-moisture anomalies on summer precipitation at convection-resolving (2.2 km) and convection-parameterizing resolution (12 km). We conduct re-analysis-driven simulations of 10 summer seasons (1999-2008) in continental Europe. While both simulations qualitatively agree on a positive sign of soil moisture-induced precipitation, they strongly differ in precipitation frequency: When convection is parameterized, wetter soil predominantly leads to more frequent precipitation events, and when convection is treated explicitly, they primarily become more intense. The results indicate that the sensitivity to soil moisture is stronger with parameterized convection, suggesting that the land surface-atmosphere coupling may be overestimated. In addition, the feedback’s sensitivity in complex terrain is assessed for soil perturbations of different horizontal scales. The convection-resolving simulations confirm a negative feedback for sub-continental soil moisture anomalies, which manifests itself in a local decrease of wet-hour frequency. However, the intensity feedback reinforces precipitation events at the same time (positive feedback). The two processes are represented differently in simulations with explicit and parameterized convection, explaining much of the difference between the two simulations