Urban Ecohydrology: Accounting for Sub‐Grid Lateral Water and Energy Transfers in a Land Surface Model
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Urban Ecohydrology: Accounting for Sub‐Grid Lateral Water and Energy Transfers in a Land Surface Model

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  • Journal Title:
    Water Resources Research
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    Although urbanization fundamentally alters water and energy cycles, contemporary land surface models (LSMs) often do not include key urban vegetation processes that serve to transfer water and energy laterally across heterogeneous urban land types. Urban water/energy transfers occur when rainfall landing on rooftops, sidewalks, and driveways is redirected to lawns or pervious pavement and when transpiration occurs from branches overhanging impervious surfaces with the corresponding root water uptake takes place in nearby portions of yards. We introduce Noah‐MP for Heterogenous Urban Environments (Noah‐MP HUE), which adds sub‐grid water transfers to the widely used Noah‐MP LSM. We examine how sub‐grid water transfers change surface water and energy balances by systematically increasing the amount of simulated water transfer for four scenarios: tree canopy expanding over pavement (Urban Tree Expansion), tree canopy shifting over pavement (Urban Tree Shift), and directing impermeable runoff onto surrounding vegetation (Downspout Disconnection) or into an engineered pavement (Permeable Pavement). Even small percentages of sub‐grid water transfer can reduce runoff and enhance evapotranspiration and deep drainage. Event‐scale runoff reduction depends on storm depth, rainfall intensity, and antecedent soil moisture. Sub‐grid water transfers also tend to enhance (reduce) latent (sensible) heat. Results highlight the importance not only of fine‐scale heterogeneity on larger scale surface processes, but also the importance of urban management practices that enhance lateral water transfers and water storage–so‐called green infrastructure–as they change land surface fluxes and, potentially, atmospheric processes. This work opens a pathway to directly integrate those practices in regional climate simulations.
  • Source:
    Water Resources Research, 60(3)
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    CC BY
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