To investigate the impact of anomalous soil moisture conditions on subsequent precipitation over North America, a series of numerical experiments is performed using a modified version of the Community Atmosphere Model version 3 and the Community Land Model version 3 (CAM3-CLM3). First, the mechanisms underlying the impact of spring and summer soil moisture on subsequent precipitation are examined based on simulations starting on 1 April and 1 June, respectively. How the response of precipitation to initial soil moisture anomalies depends on the characteristics of such anomalies, including the timing, magnitude, spatial coverage, and vertical depth, is then investigated. There are five main findings. First, the impact of spring soil moisture anomalies is not evident until early summer although their impact on the large-scale circulation results in slight changes in precipitation during spring. Second, precipitation increases with initial soil moisture almost linearly within a certain range of soil moisture. Beyond this range, precipitation is less responsive. Third, during the first month following the onset of summer soil moisture anomalies, the precipitation response to wet anomalies is larger in magnitude than that to dry anomalies. However, the resulting wet anomalies in precipitation quickly dissipate within a month or so, while the resulting dry anomalies in precipitation remain at a considerable magnitude for a longer period. Consistently, wet spring anomalies are likely to be ameliorated before summer, and thus have a smaller impact (in magnitude) on summer precipitation than dry spring anomalies. Fourth, soil moisture anomalies of smaller spatial coverage lead to precipitation anomalies that are smaller and less persistent, compared to anomalies at the continental scale. Finally, anomalies in shallow soil can persist long enough to influence the subsequent precipitation at the seasonal time scale. Dry anomalies in deep soils last much longer than those in shallow soils.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science