Soil moisture-vegetation-precipitation feedback over North America: Its sensitivity to soil moisture climatology


  • Yeonjoo Kim,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA
    2. Korea Environment Institute, Seoul, South Korea
    • Corresponding author: Y. Kim, Korea Environment Institute, 290 Jinheungno, Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul 122-706, South Korea. (

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  • Guiling Wang

    1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA
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[1] Our previous studies examined how vegetation feedback at the seasonal time scale influenced the impact of soil moisture anomalies (SMAs) on subsequent summer precipitation with a modified version of the coupled Community Atmosphere Model-Community Land Model 3 that includes a predictive phenology scheme. Here we investigate the climatology sensitivity of soil moisture-vegetation-precipitation feedback using the same model as the baseline model (BASE) and its derivative with modifications to the model runoff parameterization as the experiment model (EXP), in which we eliminate the subsurface lateral drainage to reduce the known dry biases of BASE. With vegetation feedback ignored, precipitation is more sensitive to wet SMAs than dry SMAs in BASE; opposite to BASE, the wetter mean soil moisture in EXP leads to higher sensitivity of precipitation to dry SMAs than to wet SMAs. However, in both BASE and EXP, the impact of dry SMAs on subsequent precipitation persists longer than the impact of wet SMAs. With vegetation feedback included, EXP shows a positive feedback between vegetation and precipitation following both dry and wet SMAs in summer, while BASE shows a positive feedback following wet SMAs only, with no clear signal following dry SMAs due to dry soil biases. In BASE, the magnitude of precipitation changes due to vegetation feedback is comparable to that due to soil moisture feedback when more realistic SMAs are applied. In addition, a major difference is found in spring when the vegetation impact on subsequent precipitation is negative and significant in BASE, but not significant in EXP.