Using a conceptual model of the surface energy budget, Cheruy et al.  demonstrate a noteworthy negative nocturnal link between soil moisture and temperature that is particularly strong in so-called “hot-spot” regions of land-atmosphere coupling. The negative link operates through the effect of water on the thermal inertia of the soil: dry soils can fluctuate in temperature much more readily than wet soils. Monsoon regions and transition zones between arid and humid climates have large day-to-day variability of the thermal inertia, which mainly affects variability of nighttime minimum temperatures. Here, positive soil-moisture anomalies induce cooler daytime temperatures through increased evaporative cooling, a well-known phenomenon. However, at night the higher heat capacity and thermal inertia of the wetter soil strongly prevents nocturnal cooling. The opposite situation arises for anomalously dry soils: increased daytime maximum temperatures but lower nighttime minimum temperatures.
Citation: Cheruy, F., Dufresne, J. L., Aït Mesbah, S., Grandpeix, J. Y., & Wang, F. . Role of soil thermal inertia in surface temperature and soil moisture-temperature feedback. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 9. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017MS001036
—Paul A. Dirmeyer, Editor, JAMES
Correction, 22 January 2018: The word “feedback” has been changed to “link” because the mechanism described does not represent a primary closed loop, in the standard sense of feedback processes, but rather a coupled process linkage.