Modelled contrast in the response of the surface energy balance to heatwaves for forest and grassland

L.B. Stap, B.J.J.M. van den Hurk, C.C. van Heerwaarden, R.A.J. Neggers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Observations have shown that differences in surface energy fluxes over grasslands and forests are amplified during heat waves. The role of land–atmosphere feedbacks in this process is still uncertain. In this study, a single-column model (SCM) is used to investigate the difference between forest and grassland in their energy response to heat waves. Three simulations for the period 2005–11 were carried out: a control run using vegetation characteristics for Cabauw (the Netherlands), a run where the vegetation is changed to 100% forest, and a run with 100% short grass as vegetation. A surface evaporation tendency equation is used to analyze the impact of the land–atmosphere feedbacks on evapotranspiration and sensible heat release under normal summer and heat wave conditions with excessive shortwave radiation.

Land–atmosphere feedbacks modify the contrast in surface energy fluxes between forest and grass, particularly during heat wave conditions. The surface resistance feedback has the largest positive impact, while boundary layer feedbacks generally tend to reduce the contrast. Overall, forests give higher air temperatures and drier atmospheres during heat waves. In offline land surface model simulations, the difference between forest and grassland during heat waves cannot be diagnosed adequately owing to the absence of boundary layer feedbacks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)973-989
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


  • Atmosphere-land interaction
  • Biosphere-atmosphere interaction
  • Energy budget/balance
  • Evaporation
  • Feedback
  • Sensible heating


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