Soil moisture-precipitation feedback on the North American monsoon system in the MM5-OSU model

Jianjun Xu, W. James Shuttleworth, X. Gao, Soroosh Sorooshian, Eric E. Small

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


In this study, the Pennsylvania State University/National Center for Atmospheric Research fifth generation Mesoscale Model (MM5) linked to the Oregon State University (OSU) land-surface scheme, is used to assess the strength of soil moisture-precipitation feedback in the region of influence of the North American monsoon (NAM). Two control simulations are made with external forcing taken from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction re-analysis, and with a nested horizontal resolution of 30 km, for the period 1 June to 30 September in wetter than average (1999) and drier than average (2000) monsoon seasons. These two model runs are then repeated with a prescribed precipitation rate anomaly in July over the entire NAM region, and comparisons made between atmospheric and land-surface states in the two control runs and the two runs with anomalous precipitation. The results show that size and importance of soil moisture-precipitation feedbacks in the NAM region have substantial interannual variability, and that the resulting behaviour has a strong dependency on the intensity of the prescribed precipitation anomaly. It is also shown that a marked precipitation anomaly in the NAM region results in modified soil moisture, rainfall, and surface temperature, which persist for about one month, and that a precipitation anomaly within the NAM region not only has an impact on soil moisture locally, but also causes a remote, downwind soil moisture anomaly one month later. Analysis of the modelled response to the soil moisture anomaly indicates that not only land-atmosphere interactions, but also the large-scale atmospheric circulation act together to determine the modified precipitation and soil moisture fields in the NAM system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2873-2890
Number of pages18
JournalQuarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Issue number603 PART B
StatePublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Land surface processes
  • Rainfall

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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