Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2019, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (3): 465-479.doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1610-5

• Review Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A review of fully coupled atmosphere-hydrology simulations

Like NING1,2(), Chesheng ZHAN3,*(), Yong LUO1,2, Yueling WANG3, Liangmeizi LIU3,4   

  1. 1. Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Earth System Modeling, Department of Earth System Science, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
    2. Joint Center for Global Change Studies, Beijing 100875, China
    3. Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    4. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2018-05-18 Accepted:2018-06-30 Online:2019-03-25 Published:2019-03-20
  • Contact: Chesheng ZHAN;
  • About author:

    Author: Ning Like (1986-), PhD, specialized in climate change, hydrology and water resources. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Key R&D Program of China, No.2017YFA0603702;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41571019, No.41701023, No.41571028;China Postdoctoral Science Foundation, No.2017M610867


The terrestrial hydrological process is an essential but weak link in global/regional climate models. In this paper, the development status, research hotspots and trends in coupled atmosphere-hydrology simulations are identified through a bibliometric analysis, and the challenges and opportunities in this field are reviewed and summarized. Most climate models adopt the one-dimensional (vertical) land surface parameterization, which does not include a detailed description of basin-scale hydrological processes, particularly the effects of human activities on the underlying surfaces. To understand the interaction mechanism between hydrological processes and climate change, a large number of studies focused on the climate feedback effects of hydrological processes at different spatio-temporal scales, mainly through the coupling of hydrological and climate models. The improvement of the parameterization of hydrological process and the development of large-scale hydrological model in land surface process model lay a foundation for terrestrial hydrological-climate coupling simulation, based on which, the study of terrestrial hydrological-climate coupling is evolving from the traditional unidirectional coupling research to the two-way coupling study of “climate-hydrology” feedback. However, studies of fully coupled atmosphere-hydrology simulations (also called atmosphere-hydrology two-way coupling) are far from mature. The main challenges associated with these studies are: improving the potential mismatch in hydrological models and climate models; improving the stability of coupled systems; developing an effective scale conversion scheme; perfecting the parameterization scheme; evaluating parameter uncertainties; developing effective methodology for model parameter transplanting; and improving the applicability of models and high/super-resolution simulation. Solving these problems and improving simulation accuracy are directions for future hydro-climate coupling simulation research.

Key words: land surface hydrology, regional climate model, fully coupled atmosphere-hydrology simulation, water cycle, research review