Articles | Volume 16, issue 10
Research article
16 Oct 2012
Research article |  | 16 Oct 2012

A bare ground evaporation revision in the ECMWF land-surface scheme: evaluation of its impact using ground soil moisture and satellite microwave data

C. Albergel, G. Balsamo, P. de Rosnay, J. Muñoz-Sabater, and S. Boussetta

Abstract. In situ soil moisture data from 122 stations across the United States are used to evaluate the impact of a new bare ground evaporation formulation at ECMWF. In November 2010, the bare ground evaporation used in ECMWF's operational Integrated Forecasting System (IFS) was enhanced by adopting a lower stress threshold than for the vegetation, allowing a higher evaporation. It results in more realistic soil moisture values when compared to in situ data, particularly over dry areas. Use was made of the operational IFS and offline experiments for the evaluation. The latter are based on a fixed version of the IFS and make it possible to assess the impact of a single modification, while the operational analysis is based on a continuous effort to improve the analysis and modelling systems, resulting in frequent updates (a few times a year). Considering the field sites with a fraction of bare ground greater than 0.2, the root mean square difference (RMSD) of soil moisture is shown to decrease from 0.118 m3 m−3 to 0.087 m3 m−3 when using the new formulation in offline experiments, and from 0.110 m3 m−3 to 0.088 m3 m−3 in operations. It also improves correlations. Additionally, the impact of the new formulation on the terrestrial microwave emission at a global scale is investigated. Realistic and dynamically consistent fields of brightness temperature as a function of the land surface conditions are required for the assimilation of the SMOS data. Brightness temperature simulated from surface fields from two offline experiments with the Community Microwave Emission Modelling (CMEM) platform present monthly mean differences up to 7 K. Offline experiments with the new formulation present drier soil moisture, hence simulated brightness temperature with its surface fields are larger. They are also closer to SMOS remotely sensed brightness temperature.