Journal of Climate, Volume 36, Issue 6

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American Meteorological Society
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Understanding Responses of Summer Continental Daily Temperature Variance to Perturbations in the Land Surface Evaporative Resistance
Wenwen Kong | Karen A. McKinnon | Isla R. Simpson | Marysa M. Laguë

Abstract Understanding the roles of land surface conditions and atmospheric circulation on continental daily temperature variance is key to improving predictions of temperature extremes. Evaporative resistance ( r s , hereafter), a function of the land cover type, reflects the ease with which water can be evaporated or transpired and is a strong control on land–atmosphere interactions. This study explores the effects of r s perturbations on summer daily temperature variance using the Simple Land Interface Model (SLIM) by mimicking, for r s only, a global land cover conversion from forest to crop/grassland. Decreasing r s causes a global cooling. The cooling is larger in wetter areas and weaker in drier areas, and primarily results from perturbations in shortwave radiation (SW) and latent heat flux (LH). Decreasing r s enhances cloud cover due to greater land surface evaporation and thus reduces incoming SW over most land areas. When r s decreases, wetter areas experience strong evaporative cooling, while drier areas become more moisture-limited and thus experience less cooling. Thermal advection further shapes the temperature response by damping the combined impacts of SW and LH. Temperature variance increases in drier areas and decreases in wetter areas as r s decreases. The temperature variance changes can be largely explained from changes in the combined variance of SW and LH, including an important contribution of changes in the covariance of SW and LH. In contrast, the effects of changes in thermal advection variance mainly affect the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes. Significance Statement This study aims to better understand processes governing daily near-surface air temperature variance over land. We use an idealized modeling framework to explore the effects of land surface evaporative resistance (a parameter that controls how hard it is to evaporate water from the surface) on summer daily temperature variance. We find that a uniform decrease of evaporative resistance across the global land surface causes changes in the temperature variance that can be predicted from changes in the combined variance of shortwave radiation and latent heat flux. The variance of horizontal advection is important in altering the temperature variance in the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes. Our findings shed light on predicting the characteristics of temperature variability as a function of surface conditions.