Articles | Volume 14, issue 8
Research article
17 Apr 2014
Research article |  | 17 Apr 2014

Surface response to rain events throughout the West African monsoon

F. Lohou, L. Kergoat, F. Guichard, A. Boone, B. Cappelaere, J.-M. Cohard, J. Demarty, S. Galle, M. Grippa, C. Peugeot, D. Ramier, C. M. Taylor, and F. Timouk

Abstract. This study analyses the response of the continental surface to rain events, taking advantage of the long-term near-surface measurements over different vegetation types at different latitudes, acquired during the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) by the AMMA-CATCH observing system. The simulated surface response by nine land surface models involved in AMMA Land Model Intercomparison Project (ALMIP), is compared to the observations. The surface response, described via the evaporative fraction (EF), evolves in two steps: the immediate surface response (corresponding to an increase of EF occurring immediately after the rain) and the surface recovery (characterized by a decrease of EF over several days after the rain). It is shown that, for all the experimental sites, the immediate surface response is mainly dependent on the soil moisture content and the recovery period follows an exponential relationship whose rate is strongly dependent on the vegetation type (from 1 day over bare soil to 70 days over forest) and plant functional type (below and above 10 days for annual and perennial plants, respectively). The ALMIP model ensemble depicts a broad range of relationships between EF and soil moisture, with the worst results for the drier sites (high latitudes). The land surface models tend to simulate a realistic surface recovery for vegetated sites, but a slower and more variable EF decrease is simulated over bare soil than observed.

Final-revised paper