Effect of the number of soil layers on a modeled surface water budget

Janet E. Martinez, Claude E. Duchon, William L. Crosson

A sensitivity analysis was performed to determine the effects of systematically increasing the number of soil layers in a land surface-atmosphere model on the components of the modeled water budget. The study was done for a forested location in central Oklahoma for a 65-day period in spring 1996, using the model called Simulator for Hydrology and Energy Exchange at the Land Surface (SHEELS). SHEELS is based on the Biosphere-Atmosphere Transfer Scheme (BATS), except that the subsurface hydrology was substantially changed to improve representation of the soil moisture profile. The soil profile was divided into zones of thickness 0.05 m (upper), 1.25 m (root), and 1.20 m (bottom). The two principal conclusions are that (1) the water budget is very sensitive to the number of layers in the soil profile under wet conditions and (2) the water budge is much more sensitive to the number of layers in the profile than to the range of 2 orders of magnitude in saturated hydraulic conductivity considered in this study. A result of the latter conclusion is that larger errors in modeled water fluxes can occur from using an insufficient number of soil layers than from using and incorrect value of saturated hydraulic conductivity.

Technical Contact: Dr. Bill Crosson (bill.crosson@msfc.nasa.gov)
Responsible Official: Dr. James L. Smoot (James.L.Smoot@nasa.gov)
Page Curator: Diane Samuelson (diane.samuelson@nasa.gov)