The Rho̊ne-aggregation land surface scheme intercomparison project: An overview

Aaron A. Boone, F. Habets, J. Noilhan, D. Clark, P. Dirmeyer, S. Fox, Y. Gusev, I. Haddeland, R. Koster, D. Lohmann, S. Mahanama, K. Mitchell, O. Nasonova, G. Y. Niu, A. Pitman, J. Polcher, A. B. Shmakin, K. Tanaka, B. Van Den Hurk, S. VérantD. Verseghy, P. Viterbo, Z. L. Yang

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167 Scopus citations


The Rhône-Aggregation (Rhône-AGG) Land Surface Scheme (LSS) intercomparison project is an initiative within the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX)/Global Land-Atmosphere System Study (GLASS) panel of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). It is a intermediate step leading up to the next phase of the Global Soil Wetness Project (GSWP) (Phase 2), for which there will be a broader investigation of the aggregation between global scales (GSWP-1) and the river scale. This project makes use of the Rhône modeling system, which was developed in recent years by the French research community in order to study the continental water cycle on a regional scale. The main goals of this study are to investigate how 15 LSSs simulate the water balance for several annual cycles compared to data from a dense observation network consisting of daily discharge from over 145 gauges and daily snow depth from 24 sites, and to examine the impact of changing the spatial scale on the simulations. The overall evapotranspiration, runoff, and monthly change in water storage are similarly simulated by the LSSs, however, the differing partitioning among the fluxes results in very different river discharges and soil moisture equilibrium states. Subgrid runoff is especially important for discharge at the daily timescale and for smallerscale basins. Also, models using an explicit treatment of the snowpack compared better with the observations than simpler composite schemes. Results from a series of scaling experiments are examined for which the spatial resolution of the computational grid is decreased to be consistent with large-scale atmospheric models. The impact of upscaling on the domain-averaged hydrological components is similar among most LSSs, with increased evaporation of water intercepted by the canopy and a decrease in surface runoff representing the most consistent inter-LSS responses. A significant finding is that the snow water equivalent is greatly reduced by upscaling in all LSSs but one that explicitly accounts for subgrid-scale orography effects on the atmospheric forcing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-208
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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