Articles | Volume 7, issue 5
Geosci. Model Dev., 7, 2121–2140, 2014
Geosci. Model Dev., 7, 2121–2140, 2014

Development and technical paper 23 Sep 2014

Development and technical paper | 23 Sep 2014

Implementation of a soil albedo scheme in the CABLEv1.4b land surface model and evaluation against MODIS estimates over Australia

J. Kala1, J. P. Evans1, A. J. Pitman1, C. B. Schaaf2, M. Decker1, C. Carouge1, D. Mocko3, and Q. Sun2 J. Kala et al.
  • 1Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate Systems Science and Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia
  • 2Science Applications International Corporation at NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre, NASA, Greenbelt, MD, USA
  • 3Department of Earth and the Environment, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA

Abstract. Land surface albedo, the fraction of incoming solar radiation reflected by the land surface, is a key component of the Earth system. This study evaluates snow-free surface albedo simulations by the Community Atmosphere Biosphere Land Exchange (CABLEv1.4b) model with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the Satellite Pour L'Observation de la Terre (SPOT) albedo. We compare results from offline simulations over the Australian continent. The control simulation has prescribed background snow-free and vegetation-free soil albedo derived from MODIS whilst the experiments use a simple parameterisation based on soil moisture and colour, originally from the Biosphere Atmosphere Transfer Scheme (BATS), and adopted in the Common Land Model (CLM). The control simulation, with prescribed soil albedo, shows that CABLE simulates overall albedo over Australia reasonably well, with differences compared to MODIS and SPOT albedos within ±0.1. Application of the original BATS scheme, which uses an eight-class soil classification, resulted in large differences of up to −0.25 for the near-infrared (NIR) albedo over large parts of the desert regions of central Australia. The use of a recalibrated 20-class soil colour classification from the CLM, which includes a higher range for saturated and VIS (visible) and NIR soil albedos, reduced the underestimation of the NIR albedo. However, this soil colour mapping is tuned to CLM soil moisture, a quantity which is not necessarily transferrable between land surface models. We therefore recalibrated the soil color map using CABLE's climatological soil moisture, which further reduced the underestimation of the NIR albedo to within ±0.15 over most of the continent as compared to MODIS and SPOT albedos. Small areas of larger differences of up to −0.25 remained within the central arid parts of the continent during summer; however, the spatial extent of these large differences is substantially reduced as compared to the simulation using the default eight-class uncalibrated soil colour map. It is now possible to use CABLE coupled to atmospheric models to investigate soil-moisture–albedo feedbacks, an important enhancement of the model.

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