Welcome to CGD's Terrestrial Sciences Section

TSS Research

The Terrestrial Sciences Section (TSS) is part of the Climate and Global Dynamics (CGD) Division at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. Scientists in the section study land-atmosphere interactions, in particular surface forcing of the atmosphere, through model development, application, and observational analyses.

Scientists in TSS develop and use appropriate multiscale models, remote sensing, advanced analytical techniques, and observations to study the role of the terrestrial biosphere in the climate system. Topics of study include the regulation of planetary energetics, planetary ecology, and planetary metabolism through exchanges of energy, momentum, and materials (e.g., water, carbon, dust) with the atmosphere and ocean and the response of the climate system to changes in land cover and land use. Scientists are also involved in developing the land/vegetation model used in the Community Earth System Model (CESM). This model, the Community Land Model, includes biogeophysics, biogeochemistry (carbon, nitrogen, dust, volatile organic compounds), hydrology, and vegetation dynamics.

Research in TSS spans a broad knowledge of the relationships among the biosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. TSS provides a focal point for CGD and university ecological and hydrological research and serves as a resource to these communities in the use of CESM.


Simulation of Present-day and Future Permafrost and Seasonally Frozen Ground Conditions in CCSM4. Lawrence, D.M., A.G. Slater, and S.C. Swenson, 2011: Journal of Climate, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00334.1. The representation of permafrost and seasonally frozen ground and its projected 21st century is assessed in the Community Climate System Model (CCSM4) and the Community Land Model (CLM4). The combined impact of advances in CLM and a better Arctic climate simulation, especially for air temperature, improve the permafrost simulation in CCSM4 compared to CCSM3. [article]

Contrasts between urban and rural climate in CCSM4 CMIP5 climate change scenarios. Oleson, K., 2011: Journal of Climate, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00098.1. A new parameterization of urban areas in the Community Climate System Model (CCSM4) allows for simulation of temperature in cities where most of the global population lives. CCSM4 CMIP5 simulations (Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 2.6, 4.5, and 8.5) are analyzed to examine how urban and rural areas might respond differently to changes in climate. [article]

Improving canopy processes in the Community Land Model version 4 (CLM4) using global flux fields empirically inferred from FLUXNET data . Bonan, G.B., P.J. Lawrence, K.W. Oleson, S. Levis, M. Jung, M. Reichstein, D.M. Lawrnece, and S.C. Swenson, 2011: Journal of Geophysical Research, 116, G02014, doi:10.1029/2010JG001593. The Community Land Model version 4 (CLM4) overestimates gross primary production (GPP) compared with data-driven estimates and other process models. We use global, spatially gridded GPP and latent heat flux upscaled from the FLUXNET network of eddy covariance towers to evaluate and improve canopy processes in CLM4. [article]