Standard Article

201 Land-Atmosphere Models for Water and Energy Cycle Studies

Part 17. Climate Change

  1. Bart Nijssen1,
  2. Luis A Bastidas2

Published Online: 15 APR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa212

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

Nijssen, B. and Bastidas, L. A. 2006. Land-Atmosphere Models for Water and Energy Cycle Studies. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 17:201.

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Arizona, Departments of Hydrology and Water Resources/Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Tucson, AZ, US

  2. 2

    Utah State University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering/Utah Water Research Laboratory, Logan, UT, US

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2006


Land surface models simulate the temporal evolution of the energy and water balance at and near the land surface. These models can be used coupled to an atmospheric model, in which case feedbacks between the land surface and atmosphere are explicitly represented, or they can be used in a stand-alone, uncoupled mode, in which case observed or simulated atmospheric conditions act as time-varying boundary conditions. This article reviews the basic layout of land surface models, their history, and their uses, specifically in uncoupled simulations. In this context, the challenges of model performance evaluation and the role of model intercomparison projects are discussed. The article ends with a look toward the future and the next series of developments that land surface models are likely to undergo.


  • energy balance;
  • land surface – atmosphere interactions;
  • land surface models;
  • macroscale hydrology;
  • model evaluation;
  • water balance