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Global-Scale Hydrology: Simple Characterization of Complex SimulationAtmospheric general circulation models (AGCMS) are unique and valuable tools for the analysis of large-scale hydrology. AGCM simulations of climate provide tremendous amounts of hydrological data with a spatial and temporal coverage unmatched by observation systems. To the extent that the AGCM behaves realistically, these data can shed light on the nature of the real world's hydrological cycle. In the first part of the seminar, I will describe the hydrological cycle in a typical AGCM, with some emphasis on the validation of simulated precipitation against observations. The second part of the seminar will focus on a key goal in large-scale hydrology studies, namely the identification of simple, overarching controls on hydrological behavior hidden amidst the tremendous amounts of data produced by the highly complex AGCM parameterizations. In particular, I will show that a simple 50-year-old climatological relation (and a recent extension we made to it) successfully predicts, to first order, both the annual mean and the interannual variability of simulated evaporation and runoff fluxes. The seminar will conclude with an example of a practical application of global hydrology studies. The accurate prediction of weather statistics several months in advance would have tremendous societal benefits, and conventional wisdom today points at the use of coupled ocean-atmosphere-land models for such seasonal-to-interannual prediction. Understanding the hydrological cycle in AGCMs is critical to establishing the potential for such prediction. Our own studies show, among other things, that soil moisture retention can lead to significant precipitation predictability in many midlatitude and tropical regions.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Koster, Randal D. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
April 2, 1999
Subject Category
Earth Resources and Remote Sensing
Distribution Limits