New Operational Applications for the NASA Land Information System
Carcione, Brian ; White, Kristopher ; Case, Jonathan L

While the majority of an operational meteorologist s time is spent diagnosing atmospheric conditions, land surface conditions can play a significant role in impact weather as well. The NASA Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center recently began transitioning output from the NASA Land Information System (LIS) to southeastern National Weather Service (NWS) forecast offices. The NASA LIS is a land surface modeling and data assimilation system that integrates satellite-derived datasets, ground-based observations and model reanalyses to force a variety of land surface models. In the SPoRT configuration, the LIS is designed to run the operational Noah land surface model at 1-km grid spacing across all of Alabama and portions of adjoining states.

Previous studies in 2010 and 2011 have found that the LIS can been useful in diagnosing potential locations of convective initiation across central Alabama under certain weakly-forced regimes during the summer months utilizing surface fluxes, skin temperatures, and soil moisture information. However, soil temperature and moisture data might be particularly useful for flooding, drought, and snowfall forecasting as well. Until the introduction of the gridded LIS data, NWS meteorologists did not have easy access to such detailed information over a widespread area. Therefore, this research examines LIS data for a selected number of cases, in an attempt to establish a limited land surface climatology for these situations.

At least two events were selected for each LIS use case in an effort to study a range of severity and potential land surface impacts. The events do not constitute an exhaustive list, but were selected because of impacts to north Alabama, and ease of running the LIS for those time periods. Relative and absolute volumetric soil moisture data were examined for two drought cases (extreme drought in June 2007 through February 2008 and moderate drought September through December 2010) and three significant or widespread flood events (September 2009, December 2009, and April 2011). Soil and skin temperature data were examined for three winter weather events in January 2010, December 2010, and January 2011 to evaluate the impact of ground temperatures on snowfall accumulation. For this presentation, example output of the LIS will be shown for the selected cases, as will the results of a statistical evaluation of the data. Based on these cases, approximate forecasting thresholds were established for the Tennessee Valley.