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A New Research Approach for Observing and Characterizing Land-Atmosphere Feedback


A new field campaign using a synergy of scanning lidar systems as well as other in-situ and remote sensing methods provides profiles, gradients, and fluxes of temperature, humidity, and winds from the surface to the top of the planetary boundary layer to evaluate and improve our understanding of land-atmosphere interactions.

Forecast errors with respect to wind, temperature, moisture, clouds, and precipitation largely correspond to the limited capability of current earth system models to capture and simulate land-atmosphere feedback. To facilitate its realistic simulation in next generation models, an improved process understanding of the related complex interactions is essential. To this end, accurate 3D observations of key variables in the land-atmosphere (L-A) system with high vertical and temporal resolution from the surface to the free troposphere are indispensable. Recently, we developed a synergy of innovative ground-based, scanning active remote sensing systems for 2D to 3D measurements of wind, temperature, and water vapor from the surface to the lower troposphere that is able to provide comprehensive data sets for characterizing L-A feedback independently of any model input. Several new applications are introduced such as the mapping of surface momentum, sensible heat, and latent heat fluxes in heterogeneous terrain, the testing of Monin-Obukhov similarity theory and turbulence parameterizations, the direct measurement of entrainment fluxes, and the development of new flux-gradient relationships. An experimental design taking advantage of the sensors’ synergy and advanced capabilities was realized for the first time during the Land Atmosphere Feedback Experiment (LAFE), conducted at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program Southern Great Plains site in August 2017. The scientific goals and the strategy of achieving them with the LAFE data set are introduced. We envision the initiation of innovative L-A feedback studies in different climate regions to improve weather forecast, climate, and earth system models worldwide.

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