Investigating Soil Moisture–Convective Precipitation Feedbacks in the Central United States

Authors: Steven Quiring*, The Ohio State University
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: climate, hydroclimate, soil moisture, land-atmosphere interactions
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 40
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The relationship between soil moisture and initiation of deep convection is not well understood. Many global models indicate that there is a positive soil moisture-precipitation feedback (i.e., wet soils lead to increased precipitation). This directly contrasts with recent observation-based studies that indicate afternoon convective precipitation occurs preferentially over dry soils (negative soil moisture-precipitation feedback). The objectives of this project are:
(1) Evaluate whether deep convection initiation occurs preferentially over wet or dry soils,
(2) Identify how these preferences vary over time and space, and
(3) Determine how soil moisture heterogeneity and gradients influence initiation of deep convection.

This paper compares how the sign and strength of soil moisture-convective precipitation feedbacks vary depending on the source of soil moisture data. Specifically, we evaluate the relationships using in situ soil moisture and a variety of satellite-derived soil moisture products, including NASA SMAP. This project will utilize soil moisture observations from the National Coordinated Soil Moisture Monitoring Network and hundreds of thousands of convection events identified by the ThOR algorithm. This combination of in situ observations and the immense sample size of convective events provides an unprecedented opportunity to evaluate soil moisture – precipitation feedbacks. The results of this study will lead to improvements in the parameterization schemes that are used in weather and climate models.

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