Development of inter-grid-cell lateral unsaturated and saturated flow model in the E3SM Land Model (v2.0)

Qiu, Han; Bisht, Gautam; Li, Lingcheng; Hao, Dalei; Xu, Donghui

The lateral transport of water in the subsurface is important in modulating terrestrial water energy distribution. Although a few land surface models have recently included lateral saturated flow within and across grid cells, it is not a default configuration in the Climate Model Intercomparison Project version 6 experiments. In this work, we developed the lateral subsurface flow model within both unsaturated and saturated zones in the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) Land Model version 2 (ELMv2.0). The new model, called ELMinline-formulalat, was benchmarked against PFLOTRAN, a 3D subsurface flow and transport model, for three idealized hillslopes that included a convergent hillslope, divergent hillslope, and tilted V-shaped hillslope with variably saturated initial conditions. ELMinline-formulalat showed comparable performance against PFLOTRAN in terms of capturing the dynamics of soil moisture and groundwater table for the three benchmark hillslope problems. Specifically, the mean absolute errors (MAEs) of the soil moisture in the top 10 layers between ELMinline-formulalat and PFLOTRAN were within inline-formula1 %±3 %, and the MAEs of water table depth were within inline-formula±0.2 m. Next, ELMinline-formulalat was applied to the Little Washita experimental watershed to assess its prediction of groundwater table, soil moisture, and soil temperature. The spatial pattern of simulated groundwater table depth agreed well with the global groundwater table benchmark dataset generated from a global model calibrated with long-term observations. The effects of lateral groundwater flow on the energy flux partitioning were more prominent in lowland areas with shallower groundwater tables, where the difference in simulated annual surface soil temperature could reach 0.3–0.4 inline-formulaC between ELMv2.0 and ELMinline-formulalat. Incorporating lateral subsurface flow in ELM improves the representation of the subsurface hydrology, which will provide a good basis for future large-scale applications.

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Qiu, Han / Bisht, Gautam / Li, Lingcheng / et al: Development of inter-grid-cell lateral unsaturated and saturated flow model in the E3SM Land Model (v2.0). 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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