Impacts of green vegetation fraction derivation methods on regional climate simulations

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The representation of vegetation in land surface models (LSM) is crucial for modeling atmospheric processes in regional climate models (RCMs). Vegetation is characterized by the green fractional vegetation cover (FVC) and/or the leaf area index (LAI) that are obtained from nearest difference vegetation index (NDVI) data. Most regional climate models use a constant FVC for each month and grid cell. In this work, three FVC datasets have been constructed using three methods: ZENG, WETZEL and GUTMAN. These datasets have been implemented in a RCM to explore, through sensitivity experiments over the Iberian Peninsula (IP), the effects of the differences among the FVC data-sets on the near surface temperature (T2m). Firstly, we noted that the selection of the NDVI database is of crucial importance, because there are important bias in mean and variability among them. The comparison between the three methods extracted from the same NDVI database, the global inventory modeling and mapping studies (GIMMS), reveals important differences reaching up to 12% in spatial average and and 35% locally. Such differences depend on the FVC magnitude and type of biome. The methods that use the frequency distribution of NDVI (ZENG and GUTMAN) are more similar, and the differences mainly depends on the land type. The comparison of the RCM experiments exhibits a not negligible effect of the FVC uncertainty on the monthly T2m values. Differences of 30% in FVC can produce bias of 1 ◦C in monthly T2m, although they depend on the time of the year. Therefore, the selection of a certain FVC dataset will introduce bias in T2m and will affect the annual cycle. On the other hand, fixing a FVC database, the use of synchronized FVC instead of climatological values produces differences up to 1 ◦C, that will modify the T2m interannual variability.
© The autors. We acknowledge all the institutions and communities that provided free software, R community, CDO (Climate Data Operators), GMT (Generic Mapping Tools), MM5, Gnuplot, gfortran as well as the institutions supplying data (ECMWF, NASA).