AbstractPrevious analytical and simulation-based analyses suggest that deeper land surface models are needed to realistically simulate the terrestrial thermal state in climate models, with implications for land-atmosphere interactions. Analytical approaches mainly focused on the subsurface propagation of harmonics such as the annual temperature signal, and a direct comparison with climate-change model output has been elusive. This study addresses the propagation of a harmonic pulse fitted to represent the timescale and amplitude of anthropogenic warming. Its comparison to land model simulations with stepwise increased bottom boundary depth leads to an agreement between the simulation-based and analytical frameworks for long-term climate trends. Any depth increase gradually decreases the relative error in the subsurface thermodynamics, and a minimum depth of 170 m is recommended to simulate the ground climate adequately. The approach provides an accurate estimate of the required land-model depth for climate-change simulations and assesses the relative bias in insufficiently deep land models.