Identification of soil-cooling rains in southern France from soil temperature and soil moisture observations

Zhang, Sibo; Meurey, Catherine; Calvet, Jean-Christophe

In this study, the frequency and intensity of soil-cooling rains is assessed using in situ observations of atmospheric and soil profile variables in southern France. Rainfall, soil temperature, and topsoil volumetric soil moisture (VSM) observations, measured every 12 min at 21 stations of the SMOSMANIA (Soil Moisture Observing System – Meteorological Automatic Network Integrated Application) network, are analyzed over a time period of 9 years, from 2008 to 2016. The spatial and temporal statistical distribution of the observed rainfall events presenting a marked soil-cooling effect is investigated. It is observed that the soil temperature at a depth of 5 cm can decrease by as much as 6.5 ∘C in only 12 min during a soil-cooling rain. We define marked soil-cooling rains as rainfall events triggering a drop in soil temperature at a depth of 5 cm larger than 1.5 ∘C in 12 min. Under Mediterranean and Mediterranean–mountain climates, it is shown that such events occur up to nearly 3 times a year, and about once a year on average. This frequency decreases to about once every 3.5 years under semi-oceanic climate. Under oceanic climate, such pronounced soil-cooling rains are not observed over the considered period of time. Rainwater temperature is estimated for 13 cases of marked soil-cooling rains using observed changes within 12 min in soil temperature at a depth of 5 cm, together with soil thermal properties and changes in VSM. On average, the estimated rainwater temperature is generally lower than the observed ambient air temperature, wet-bulb temperature, and topsoil temperature at a depth of 5 cm, with mean differences of −5.1, −3.8, and −11.1 ∘C, respectively. The most pronounced differences are attributed to hailstorms or to hailstones melting before getting to the soil surface. Ignoring this cooling effect can introduce biases in land surface energy budget simulations.

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Zhang, Sibo / Meurey, Catherine / Calvet, Jean-Christophe: Identification of soil-cooling rains in southern France from soil temperature and soil moisture observations. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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