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Divergent surface and total soil moisture projections under global warming

Divergent surface and total soil moisture projections under global warming
Divergent surface and total soil moisture projections under global warming
Land aridity has been projected to increase with global warming. Such projections are mostly based on off-line aridity and drought metrics applied to climate model outputs but also are supported by climate-model projections of decreased surface soil moisture. Here we comprehensively analyze soil moisture projections from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5, including surface, total, and layer-by-layer soil moisture. We identify a robust vertical gradient of projected mean soil moisture changes, with more negative changes near the surface. Some regions of the northern middle to high latitudes exhibit negative annual surface changes but positive total changes. We interpret this behavior in the context of seasonal changes in the surface water budget. This vertical pattern implies that the extensive drying predicted by off-line drought metrics, while consistent with the projected decline in surface soil moisture, will tend to overestimate (negatively) changes in total soil water availability.
0094-8276
236-244
Berg, Alexis
78bd0eda-314b-4474-bc3c-a4a8b3a4f2a4
Sheffield, Justin
dd66575b-a4dc-4190-ad95-df2d6aaaaa6b
Milly, P.C.D.
34cac550-37ec-470a-924d-cad5bec6f4eb
Berg, Alexis
78bd0eda-314b-4474-bc3c-a4a8b3a4f2a4
Sheffield, Justin
dd66575b-a4dc-4190-ad95-df2d6aaaaa6b
Milly, P.C.D.
34cac550-37ec-470a-924d-cad5bec6f4eb

Berg, Alexis, Sheffield, Justin and Milly, P.C.D. (2017) Divergent surface and total soil moisture projections under global warming. Geophysical Research Letters, 44 (1), 236-244. (doi:10.1002/2016GL071921).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Land aridity has been projected to increase with global warming. Such projections are mostly based on off-line aridity and drought metrics applied to climate model outputs but also are supported by climate-model projections of decreased surface soil moisture. Here we comprehensively analyze soil moisture projections from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5, including surface, total, and layer-by-layer soil moisture. We identify a robust vertical gradient of projected mean soil moisture changes, with more negative changes near the surface. Some regions of the northern middle to high latitudes exhibit negative annual surface changes but positive total changes. We interpret this behavior in the context of seasonal changes in the surface water budget. This vertical pattern implies that the extensive drying predicted by off-line drought metrics, while consistent with the projected decline in surface soil moisture, will tend to overestimate (negatively) changes in total soil water availability.

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Accepted/In Press date: 28 December 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 13 January 2017
Published date: 16 January 2017
Additional Information: Copyright (2016) American Geophysical Union. Further reproduction or electronic distribution is not permitted
Organisations: Global Env Change & Earth Observation

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 402177
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/402177
ISSN: 0094-8276
PURE UUID: 162b4cc9-e579-4037-b6b1-4dc46e47721f
ORCID for Justin Sheffield: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2400-0630

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Date deposited: 02 Feb 2017 10:38
Last modified: 17 Dec 2019 06:17

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