Summer temperature response to extreme soil water conditions in the Mediterranean transitional climate regime

Materia, Stefano ; Ardilouze, Constantin ; Prodhomme, Chloé ; Donat, Markus G. ; Benassi, Marianna ; Doblas-Reyes, Francisco J. ; Peano, Daniele ; Caron, Louis-Philippe ; Ruggieri, Paolo ; Gualdi, Silvio

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<p align=justify>Land surface and atmosphere are interlocked by the hydrological and energy cycles and the effects of soil water-air coupling can modulate near-surface temperatures. In this work, three paired experiments were designed to evaluate impacts of different soil moisture initial and boundary conditions on summer temperatures in the Mediterranean transitional climate regime region. In this area, evapotranspiration is not limited by solar radiation, rather by soil moisture, which therefore controls the boundary layer variability. Extremely dry, extremely wet and averagely humid ground conditions are imposed to two global climate models at the beginning of the warm and dry season. Then, sensitivity experiments, where atmosphere is alternatively interactive with and forced by land surface, are launched. The initial soil state largely affects summer near-surface temperatures: dry soils contribute to warm the lower atmosphere and exacerbate heat extremes, while wet terrains suppress thermal peaks, and both effects last for several months. Land-atmosphere coupling proves to be a fundamental ingredient to modulate the boundary layer state, through the partition between latent and sensible heat fluxes. In the coupled runs, early season heat waves are sustained by interactive dry soils, which respond to hot weather conditions with increased evaporative demand, resulting in longer-lasting extreme temperatures. On the other hand, when wet conditions are prescribed across the season, the occurrence of hot days is suppressed. The land surface prescribed by climatological precipitation forcing causes a temperature drop throughout the months, due to sustained evaporation of surface soil water. Results have implications for seasonal forecasts on both rain-fed and irrigated continental regions in transitional climate zones.</p>
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