A proposal for a general interface between land surface schemes and general circulation models

J. Polcher*, B. McAvaney, P. Viterbo, M. A. Gaertner, A. Hahmann, J. F. Mahfouf, J. Noilhan, T. Phillips, A. Pitman, C. A. Schlosser, J. P. Schulz, B. Timbal, D. Verseghy, Y. Xue

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this paper is to propose a general interface for coupling general circulation models (GCMs) to land surface schemes (LSS) in order to achieve a plug compatibility between these complex models. As surface parameterizations include more processes, they have moved from being subroutines of GCMs to independent schemes which can also be applied for other purposes. This evolution has raised the problem within climate modeling groups of coupling these schemes to GCMs in a simple and flexible way. As LSS reaches a larger independence, a general interface is needed to enable exchange within the community. This paper discusses the tasks LSS have to fulfill when coupled to a GCM after a review of the current state of the art and the likely future evolutions of both components. The numerical schemes used for the processes which couple the land surfaces to the atmosphere are reviewed to ensure that the interface can be applied to all LSS and GCMs after only minor changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-276
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1998


  • Coupling land surface schemes
  • General circulation models
  • Land surface schemes


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