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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2015, Article ID 607181, 17 pages
Review Article

A Review on Land Surface Processes Modelling over Complex Terrain

Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041, China

Received 20 March 2015; Revised 21 May 2015; Accepted 15 July 2015

Academic Editor: Massimo A. Bollasina

Copyright © 2015 Wei Zhao and Ainong Li. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Complex terrain, commonly represented by mountainous region, occupies nearly one-quarter of the Earth’s continental areas. An accurate understanding of water cycle, energy exchange, carbon cycle, and many other biogeophysical or biogeochemical processes in this area has become more and more important for climate change study. Due to the influences from complex topography and rapid variation in elevation, it is usually difficult for field measurements to capture the land-atmosphere interactions well, whereas land surface model (LSM) simulation provides a good alternative. A systematic review is introduced by pointing out the key issues for land surface processes simulation over complex terrain: (1) high spatial heterogeneity for land surface parameters in horizontal direction, (2) big variation of atmospheric forcing data in vertical direction related to elevation change, (3) scale effect on land surface parameterization in LSM, and (4) two-dimensional modelling which considers the gravity influence. Regarding these issues, it is promising for better simulation at this special region by involving higher spatial resolution atmospheric forcing data which can reflect the influences from topographic changes and making necessary improvements on model structure related to topographic factors. In addition, the incorporation of remote sensing techniques will significantly help to reduce uncertainties in model initialization, simulation, and validation.