Temporal changes in land surface coupling strength: An example in a semi-arid region of Australia

Min-Hui Lo, Wen-Ying Wu, Lois Iping Tang, Dongryeol Ryu, Mehnaz Rashid, Ren-Jie Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the critical components in understanding the climate system is the interaction between the land and the atmosphere. Whereas previous studies on land–atmosphere coupling mostly focus on its spatial hotspots, we explore the temporal evolution of land surface coupling strength (LCS) during a large-scale flood event in a semiarid region in northern Australia. The LCS indicates the relationship between soil moisture and latent heat flux, and the spatiotemporal variability in precipitation and soil water strongly affects the variability of LCS. The LCS is usually positive in the semiarid climate, where evapotranspiration (ET) occurs under the soil moisture–limited regime and thus increases with soil moisture. However, our analyses of combined land surface modeling and observational datasets show high temporal variability of LCS in the course of the extreme flood event followed by a drying period. The wet regions transferred the ET regime from the soil moisture–limited to the transition section, weakening the linear growth of ET with soil moisture, which resulted in the decline of LCS. The LCS remained weak until the flood retreated and the soil water approached the prestorm average state. Such temporal variation of the LCS has important implications for realistic parameterization of the land–atmosphere coupling and consequently improving subseasonal to seasonal climate forecast.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1503-1513
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number4
Early online date26 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


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