Sensitivity Analysis of the Land Surface Model NOAH-MP for Different Model Fluxes

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Stephan Thober1, Juliane Mai1, Luis E Samaniego1, Martyn P Clark2, Pablo A Mendoza3, Volker Guenter Wulfmeyer4, Oliver Branch4, Sabine Attinger1, Rohini Kumar1 and Matthias Cuntz1, (1)Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany, (2)NCAR, Boulder, CO, United States, (3)University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States, (4)University of Hohenheim, Institute of Physics and Meteorology, Stuttgart, Germany
The land-atmosphere fluxes of water, energy and carbon, as computed by the Land Surface Model (LSM), are a critical component of Earth System Models and Numerical Weather Prediction models. Processes and parameters of LSMs are validated mostly against point measurements, for example from Eddy-covariance towers, with much attention given to biophysical processes and vegetation parameters. River discharge on the other hand is not considered very often although it provides an integrated signal of the hydrologic cycle over a catchment. Sensitivity analyses of hydrologic models have shown that soil parameters have then the largest impact on modeled river discharge. In this study, we quantify parametric sensitivities of the land surface model NOAH-MP simultaneously for model outputs at different spatial resolutions. NOAH-MP is a state-of-the-art LSM, which is used at regional scale as the land surface scheme of the atmospheric Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF). NOAH-MP contains multiple process parameterizations (hence MP), yielding a considerable amount of parameters (> 500). Standard methods for sensitivity analysis such as Sobol indexes require too many model evaluations in case of many parameters. We therefore use first a recently developed inexpensive screening method based on Elementary Effects that has proven to identify the same informative parameters as the Sobol method but requires only 1% of model evaluations. This reduces the number of parameters to a feasible amount for a thorough sensitivity analysis. The study is conducted on twelve Model Parameter Estimation Experiment (MOPEX) catchments. This allows investigation of parametric sensitivities for distinct hydro-climatic characteristics, emphasizing different land-surface processes. The river basins range in size from 1020 to 4421 km², allowing fast model evaluation. The screening and sensitivity analysis identifies the most informative parameters of NOAH-MP for different model output variables. These parameters can subsequently be used in model calibration and adaptation for better representation of land-atmosphere fluxes at different scales. The long-term objective is to establish flux preservation at multiple resolutions in NOAH-MP to allow assimilation of observations at their representative scale.