How can the First ISLSCP Field Experiment contribute to present-day efforts to evaluate water stress in JULESv5.0?
The First International Satellite Land Surface Climatology Project (ISLSCP) Field Experiment (FIFE), Kansas, US, 1987–1989, made important contributions to the understanding of energy and CO2 exchanges between the land surface and the atmosphere, which heavily influenced the development of numerical land-surface modelling. Now, 30 years on, we demonstrate how the wealth of data collected during FIFE and its subsequent in-depth analysis in the literature continue to be a valuable resource for the current generation of land-surface models. To illustrate, we use the FIFE dataset to evaluate the representation of water stress on tallgrass prairie vegetation in the Joint UK Land Environment Simulator (JULES) and highlight areas for future development. We show that, while JULES is able to simulate a decrease in net carbon assimilation and evapotranspiration during a dry spell, the shape of the diurnal cycle is not well captured. Evaluating the model parameters and results against this dataset provides a case study on the assumptions in calibrating “unstressed” vegetation parameters and thresholds for water stress. In particular, the responses to low water availability and high temperatures are calibrated separately. We also illustrate the effect of inherent uncertainties in key observables, such as leaf area index, soil moisture and soil properties. Given these valuable lessons, simulations for this site will be a key addition to a compilation of simulations covering a wide range of vegetation types and climate regimes, which will be used to improve the way that water stress is represented within JULES.