Constraining land surface and atmospheric parameters of a locally coupled model using observational data

Yuqiong Liu, Hoshin V. Gupta, Soroosh Sorooshian, Luis A. Bastidas, William J. Shuttleworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


In coupled land surface-atmosphere modeling, the possibility and benefits of constraining model parameters using observational data bear investigation. Using the locally coupled NCAR Single-column Community Climate Model (NCAR SCCM), this study demonstrates some feasible, effective approaches to constrain parameter estimates for coupled land-atmosphere models and explores the effects of including both land surface and atmospheric parameters and fluxes/variables in the parameter estimation process, as well as the value of conducting the process in a stepwise manner. The results indicate that the use of both land surface and atmospheric flux variables to construct error criteria can lead to better-constrained parameter sets. The model with "optimal" parameters generally performs better than when a priori parameters are used, especially when some atmospheric parameters are included in the parameter estimation process. The overall conclusion is that, to achieve balanced, reasonable model performance on all variables, it is desirable to optimize both land surface and atmospheric parameters and use both land surface and atmospheric fluxes/variables for error criteria in the optimization process. The results also show that, for a coupled land-atmosphere model, there are potential advantages to using a stepwise procedure in which the land surface parameters are first identified in offline mode, after which the atmospheric parameters are determined in coupled mode. This stepwise scheme appears to provide comparable solutions to a fully coupled approach, but with considerably reduced computational time. The trade-off in the ability of a model to satisfactorily simulate different processes simultaneously, as observed in most multicriteria studies, is most evident for sensible heat and precipitation in this study for the NCAR SCCM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-172
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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