This paper investigates the performance of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Noah land surface model at two semiarid sites in southern Arizona. The goal is to evaluate the transferability of calibrated parameters (i.e., direct application of a parameter set to a "similar" site) between the sites and to analyze model performance under the various climatic conditions that can occur in this region. A multicriteria, systematic evaluation scheme is developed to meet these goals. Results indicate that the Noah model is able to simulate sensible heat, ground heat, and ground temperature observations with a high degree of accuracy, using the optimized parameter sets. However, there is a large influx of moist air into Arizona during the monsoon period, and significant latent heat flux errors are observed in model simulations during these periods. The use of proxy site parameters (transferred parameter set), as well as traditional default parameters, results in diminished model performance when compared to a set of parameters calibrated specifically to the flux sites. Also, using a parameter set obtained from a longer-time-frame calibration (i.e., a 4-yr period) results in decreased model performance during nonstationary, short-term climatic events, such as a monsoon or El Niño. Although these results are specific to the sites in Arizona, it is hypothesized that these results may hold true for other case studies. In general, there is still the opportunity for improvement in the representation of physical processes in land surface models for semiarid regions. The hope is that rigorous model evaluation, such as that put forth in this analysis, and studies such as the Project for the Intercomparison of Land-Surface Processes (PILPS) San Pedro-Sevilleta, will lead to advances in model development, as well as parameter estimation and transferability, for use in long-term climate and regional environmental studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science