Characterizing land surface processes: A quantitative analysis using air-ground thermal orbits

Smerdon, Jason E.; Beltrami, Hugo; Creelman, Chance; Stevens, M. Bruce

A quantitative analysis of thermal orbits is developed and applied to modeled air and ground temperatures. Thermal orbits are phase-space representations of air and ground temperature relationships that are generated by plotting daily or monthly ground temperatures against air temperatures. Thermal orbits are useful descriptive tools that provide straightforward illustrations of air and ground temperature relationships in the presence of land surface processes related to snow cover, soil freezing, and vegetation effects. The utility of thermal orbits has been limited, however, by the lack of quantitative analyses that describe changes in orbits across different environments or in time. This shortcoming is overcome in the present study by developing a linear regression analysis of thermal orbits that allows changes to be tracked in time and space and as a function of depth within the subsurface. The theory that underlies the thermal orbit regression analysis is developed herein, and the utility of the application is demonstrated using controlled model experiments.


Also Published In

Journal of Geophysical Research

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
Published Here
August 10, 2011