GEO 391 (Unique 27980)


(MWF 2:00-3:00)

Fall 2013

Goals: To provide an introduction to the role of land in weather and climate systems, and to transition the students from learning a course to doing a research project.

Topics: Basics of terrestrial surface energy, water and carbon balances. Micrometeorology and atmospheric boundary layer. Ecohydrology, biometeorology, hydrometeorology, and hydroclimatology. Theory, modeling, and observations. Spatial scales: point scale (meters) to global. Temporal scales: seconds to centuries. The students will be motivated to learn programming in FORTRAN 90, doing graphics with NCAR Command Language (NCL), formulating science questions, designing numerical experiments, obtaining results using the NCAR Community Land Model (Diagnostics), visiting tower flux sites to see how radiative fluxes, ground heat fluxes, and turbulent fluxes of CO2, water vapor, and sensible heat are measured, discussing/interpreting the results, writing scientific reports, and making scientific presentations.

Instructor: Dr. Zong-Liang Yang, Tel: 512-471-3824, Email:

Lectures: MWF, 2:00 3:00 pm; EPS Room 1.126

Week Monday Wednesday Friday Topics
1   August 28 (first class) August 30 GLAD; History of Land Surface Studies; Running CLM on Lonestar
Shuttleworth: Ch. 1 Hydrometeorology and the global water cycle
2 Sept 2: Labor Day Holiday Sept 4 Sept 6 Overview: land surface processes and modeling
Shuttleworth: Ch. 24 SVATs
3 Sept 9 Sept 11 Sept 13: CLM4.5 Modeling Lab 1 Radiation; TACC, Lonestar, Ranger, FORTRAN, UNIX
Shuttleworth: Ch. 5: Terrestrial radiation
4 Sept 16 Sept 18: Quiz #1 Sept 20: CLM4.5 Modeling Lab 2 Bonan, Ch. 13, 14, 15; ABL, SEB, Turbulence, Thermodynamics
Shuttleworth: Ch. 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 2, 3, 10, 11, 12
5 Sept 23 Sept 25 Sept 27  
6 Sept 30 Oct 2: Oct 4 Bonan: Ch. 18: plant canopy, big leaf models,  z0, d, LAI;  LAI measurements (in situ method, satellite remote sensing)
Shuttleworth: Ch. 21, 22 Whole canopy interactions
7 Oct 7 UCAR Meeting Oct 9: CLM4 Modeling with Yonghan Kwon Oct 11: hydrology Bonan: Ch. 11, 12: water balance, watershed hydrology, and river routing
Shuttleworth: Ch. 1, 12, 13, 14, 23 The global water cycle, precipitation, evaporation
8 Oct 14: Water Forum III Oct 16 Quiz #2; Soil map Oct 18 Bonan: Ch. 9, soil physics: soil classifications and soil temperatures
Shuttleworth: Ch. 4, 6, 7 Surface energy fluxes
9 Oct 21 10-L Soil Model Oct 23: GRACE Science Meeting Oct 25: GRACE Science Meeting Bonan: Ch. 9, 10: soil physics: soil moisture and soil biogeochemistry; Soil Physics Multi-State Research Project
Shuttleworth: Ch. 24 SVATs
10 Oct 28: Quiz #3 Oct 30: Biomes, PFTs, and DGVMs Nov 1: Bonan: Ch. 16, 17, 18; Leaf energy fluxes and leaf photosynthesis (The classic Farquhar model; New applications: Bonan 1995, Bonan et al. 2011, Chen et al. 2011)
Shuttleworth: Ch. 21 Canopy processes and canopy resistances
Bonan: Ch. 19-24: ecosystems, vegetation dynamics, global biogeography
Shuttleworth: Ch. 24: SVATs
11 Nov 4 (Term Paper Topic Due) Nov 6: LSMs;  Land-atmosphere interactions (Dr. Jiangfeng Wei) Nov 8 CLM4 Lab (Yonghwan Kwon) Bonan: Ch. 25, 27, 28, 29: Land-climate interactions
Shuttleworth: Ch. 25: Sensitivity to land surface exchanges
12 Nov 11: Climate-snow interactions (Dr. Hua Su) Nov 13: Quiz #4; Urbanization; CLMU Nov 15:  subgrid scale variability of land surface features; scaling up and down (zooming in and out) Bonan: Ch. 27, 30: Land use and land cover change, urbanization
Shuttleworth: Ch. 25C: The influence of imposed persistent changes in land cover
13 Nov 18: Dr. Ron Prinn CIESS Distinguished Lecture Series (3-4 pm) Nov 20 Nov 22: Accomplishments, Challenges, and Opportunities Modeling discussions:

Bonan, G. B., and S. Levis (2010), Quantifying  carbon-nitrogen feedbacks in the Community Land Model (CLM4), Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L07401, doi:10.1029/2010GL042430.

Lawrence, D.M., K.W. Oleson, M.G. Flanner, P.E. Thornton, S.C. Swenson, P.J. Lawrence, X. Zeng, Z.-L. Yang, S. Levis, K. Sakaguchi, G.B. Bonan, and A. G. Slater, 2011: Parameterization improvements and functional and structural advances in version 4 of the Community Land Model, Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, [pdf]

Gent, P. R., G. Danabasoglu, L. Donner, M. M. Holland, E. C. Hunke, S. R. Jayne, D. M. Lawrence, R. B. Neale, P. J. Rasch, M. Vertenstein, P. H. Worley, Z.-L. Yang, and M. Zhang, 2011: The Community Climate System Model Version 4. J. Climate, 24, 4973-4991, doi: 10.1175/2011JCLI4083.1. [ ]

14 Nov 25: Quiz #5: Nov 27 Nov 29: Thanksgiving Modeling discussions; Presentations
15 Dec 2: (Term Paper Due) Presentations: Adam, Alex, Maryia Dec 4 (1:00-1:50 pm): Presentations: Carly, Holly; course evaluations Dec 6 (Last class) Presentations


Office Hours:

Friday, 4-5pm or by appointment, JGB Room 5.220DA

Required Textbook:

            Ecological Climatology: Concepts and Applications (Gordon Bonan, 2008, Second Edition, Cambridge University Press, pp. 550)

   Terrestrial Hydrometeorology (W. J. Shuttleworth, 2012, John Wiley & Sons., Ltd, pp. 448)

Assignments: click here


Basic calculus and physics (M308M and PHY 303K or equivalent courses) and an interest in interdisciplinary processes.

Grading Policy:

Generally, homework will be due one week from the date when it is given; if it is given on Monday, it will be due next Monday in the beginning of the class. Late homework will not be accepted without a pretty good reason. You are encouraged to work together on your homework if you wish, but make sure you understand what you write down. 

Pop-quizzes will be given at random times without prior notice, about every 2 weeks.  In these you will be given a question related to the subject matter and/or assigned reading materials to write about or a problem to solve, and about 5 minutes to do it. Please bring loose-leaf paper, a pencil, and a scientific calculator to every class.

There will be no mid-term test and final examination. Participation in class discussions, and raising good questions during lecture are strongly encouraged. Grades will be determined from the following formula:

Homework/Participation and Basic Programming 40%
Bi-weekly 5-minute quiz  15%
Land Surface Modeling (CLM4.0) 15%
Topic for term paper (Due November 5, 2012) [see Elements of Style  and A Guide to Write a Paper by G.H. Jirka (1992)] 15%
Presentation (Term paper due December 2, 2013) 15%


 Graduate students need to read and comment on cutting-edge research articles in the literature. In addition, graduate students are expected to demonstrate more skills in quantitative analysis and numerical modeling.

Final Letter Grades: The percent-letter grade relationship will usually be: >90 A, 80-89 B, 70-79 C, 60-69 D, and < 60 Ouch. Your attendance and extra credits will affect your final grades.

Major References:

Global Physical Climatology, D. L. Hartmann, 1994

Ecohydrology: Darwinian expression of vegetation form and function

, Peter S. Eagleson, 2002.

The Atmospheric Boundary Layer, J. R. Garratt, QC 880.4 B65 G37 1992.

Handbook of Hydrology, D. R. Maidment, GB 662.5 M35 1993.

Land Surface Evaporation: Measurement and Parameterization, T. J. Schmugge  and J.-C. Andre, QC 915.6 L36 1991.

An Introduction to Atmospheric Radiation, 2nd edition, K.N. Liou, 2002

A Climate Modeling Primer, 2nd edition, K. McGuffie and A. Henderson-Sellers, 1997

Climate System Modeling, K. E. Trenberth, QC 981 C65 1992.

Mesoscale Meteorological Modeling, Second Edition, R. A. Pielke, Sr., Academic Press, 2002.

Computer Hotlists (Courtesy of Dr. Youming Tang

C, C++
Linux and Unix: