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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Upscaling and Downscaling - a Regional View of the Soil-Plant-Atmosphere Continuum

Authors
item Anderson, Martha - UNIV OF WI-MADISON
item Kustas, William
item Norman, John - UNIV OF WI-MADISON

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 26, 2003
Publication Date: November 5, 2003
Citation: Anderson, M.C., Kustas, W.P., Norman, J.M. 2003. Upscaling and downscaling-a regional view of the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. Agronomy Journal. 95:1408-1423.

Interpretive Summary: The strength of interaction between soil, plants and atmosphere is highly scale dependent. As the spatial scale of organized soil-plant behavior increases, so does the influence the land-surface has on atmospheric properties and circulations. Counterbalancing this is a system of feedback loops that serve to reduce the sensitivity of land-atmosphere exchanges to changes in surface conditions. Understanding the importance of land-atmosphere feedbacks and effects of land-surface heterogeneity on surface fluxes at progressively larger spatial scales is essential for assessing regional crop growth and yield potential. Conversely, when downscaling to field level, we need to now how to appropriately parameterize sub-regional scale phenomena within large scale modeling frameworks. This paper discusses some of the major challenges faced today in properly describing soil-plant-atmosphere behavior at regional spatial scales. We focus on an integrated suite of land-atmosphere models that operate from plant- to regional-scales, currently utilized in a concerted research effort aimed at identifying scale-relevant land-atmosphere feedbacks. This work is critical for developing tools that deal with surface heterogeneity efficiently and robustly in coupled models.

Technical Abstract: The strength of interaction between soil, plants and atmosphere is highly scale dependent. As the spatial scale of organized soil-plant behavior (e.g., soil drying and/or stomatal closure) increases, so does the influence the land-surface has on atmospheric properties and circulations. Counterbalancing this is a system of feedback loops that serve to reduce the sensitivity of surface fluxes to changes in surface conditions. Model upscaling involves capturing land-atmosphere feedbacks and effects of land-surface heterogeneity on surface fluxes and atmospheric boundary layer dynamics that become operative at progressively larger spatial scales. Conversely, by downscaling, we learn how to appropriately parameterize sub-grid scale phenomena within large scale modeling frameworks. This paper discusses some of the major challenges faced today in properly describing system behavior at regional spatial scales. We focus on an integrated suite of land-atmosphere models that operate from plant- to meso-scales, currently utilized in a concerted research effort aimed at identifying scale-relevant land-atmosphere feedbacks and representing surface heterogeneity efficiently and robustly in coupled models.

Last Modified: 11/22/2014
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