An idealized study with two land surface models (LSMs): TERRA-Multi Layer (TERRA-ML) and Community Land Model (CLM) alternatively coupled to the same atmospheric model COSMO (Consortium for Small-Scale Modeling), reveals differences in the response of the LSMs to initial soil moisture. The bulk parameterization of evapotranspiration pathways, which depends on the integrated soil moisture of active layers rather than on each discrete layer, results in a weaker response of the surface energy flux partitioning to changes in soil moisture for TERRA-ML, as compared to CLM. The difference in the resulting surface energy flux partitioning also significantly affects the model response in terms of the state of the atmospheric boundary layer. For vegetated land surfaces, both models behave quite differently for drier regimes. However, deeper reaching root fractions in CLM align both model responses with each other. In general, differences in the parameterization of the available root zone soil moisture, evapotranspiration pathways, and the soil-vegetation structure in the two LSMs are mainly responsible for the diverging tendencies of the simulated land atmosphere coupling responses.
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