Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 539292
Title Relation between convective rainfall properties and antecedent soil moisture heterogeneity conditions in North Africa
Author(s) Petrova, Irina Y.; Miralles, Diego G.; Heerwaarden, Chiel C. van; Wouters, Hendrik
Source Remote Sensing 10 (2018)6. - ISSN 2072-4292
Department(s) Meteorology and Air Quality
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2018
Keyword(s) Convective rainfall initiation - Semi-arid Sahel - Soilmoisture heterogeneity - Soilmoisture-precipitation coupling

Recent observational studies have demonstrated the relevance of soil moisture heterogeneity and the associated thermally-induced circulation on deep convection and rainfall triggering. However, whether this dynamical mechanism further influences rainfall properties-such as rain volume or timing-has yet to be confirmed by observational data. Here, we analyze 10 years of satellite-based sub-daily soil moisture and precipitation records and explore the potential of strong spatial gradients in morning soil moisture to influence the properties of afternoon rainfall in the North African region, at the 100-km scale. We find that the convective rain systems that form over locally drier soils and anomalously strong soil moisture gradients have a tendency to initiate earlier in the afternoon; they also yield lower volumes of rain, weaker intensity and lower spatial variability. The strongest sensitivity to antecedent soil conditions is identified for the timing of the rain onset; it is found to be correlated with the magnitude of the soil moisture gradient. Further analysis shows that the early initiation of rainfall over dry soils and strong surface gradients yet requires the presence of a very moist boundary layer on that day. Our findings agree well with the expected effects of thermally-induced circulation on rainfall properties suggested by theoretical studies and point to the potential of locally drier and heterogeneous soils to influence convective rainfall development. The systematic nature of the identified effect of soil moisture state on the onset time of rainstorms in the region is of particular relevance and may help foster research on rainfall predictability.

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