Publication Abstracts

Cook et al. 2006

Cook, B.I., G. Bonan, and S. Levis, 2006: Soil moisture feedbacks to precipitation in southern Africa. J. Climate, 19, 4198-4206, doi:10.1175/JCLI3856.1.

The effects of increased soil moisture on wet season (October-March) precipitation in southern Africa are investigated using the Community Climate System Model version 3 (CCSM3). In the CTRL case, soil moisture is allowed to interact dynamically with the atmosphere. In the MOIST case, soil moisture is set so that evapotranspiration is not limited by the supply of water. The MOIST scenario actually results in decreased precipitation over the region of perturbed soil moisture, compared to CTRL. The increased soil moisture alters the surface energy balance, resulting in a shift from sensible to latent heating. This manifests in two ways relevant for precipitation processes. First, the shift from sensible to latent heating cools the surface, causing a higher surface pressure, a reduced boundary layer height, and an increased vertical gradient in equivalent potential temperature. These changes are indicative of an increase in atmospheric stability, inhibiting vertical movement of air parcels and decreasing the ability of precipitation to form. Second, the surface changes induce anomalous surface divergence and increased subsidence. This causes a reduction in cloud cover and specific humidity above 700 hPa and results in a net decrease of column-integrated precipitable water, despite the increased surface water flux, indicating a reduction in moisture convergence. Based on this and a previous study, soil moisture may act as a negative feedback to precipitation in southern Africa, helping to buffer the system against any external forcing of precipitation (e.g., ENSO).

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Cook, B. I. and Bonan, G. and Levis, S.},
  title={Soil moisture feedbacks to precipitation in southern Africa},
  journal={J. Climate},

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RIS Citation

ID  - co06500y
AU  - Cook, B. I.
AU  - Bonan, G.
AU  - Levis, S.
PY  - 2006
TI  - Soil moisture feedbacks to precipitation in southern Africa
JA  - J. Climate
VL  - 19
SP  - 4198
EP  - 4206
DO  - 10.1175/JCLI3856.1
ER  -

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