Improving soil moisture and runoff simulations at 3 km over Europe using land surface data assimilation
Accurate and reliable hydrologic simulations are important for many applications such as water resources management, future water availability projections and predictions of extreme events. However, the accuracy of water balance estimates is limited by the lack of large-scale observations, model simulation uncertainties and biases related to errors in model structure and uncertain inputs (e.g., hydrologic parameters and atmospheric forcings). The availability of long-term and global remotely sensed soil moisture offers the opportunity to improve model estimates through data assimilation with complete spatiotemporal coverage. In this study, we assimilated the European Space Agency (ESA) Climate Change Initiative (CCI) derived soil moisture (SM) information to improve the estimation of continental-scale soil moisture and runoff. The assimilation experiment was conducted over a time period 2000–2006 with the Community Land Model, version 3.5 (CLM3.5), integrated with the Parallel Data Assimilation Framework (PDAF) at a spatial resolution of 0.0275∘ (∼3 km) over Europe. The model was forced with the high-resolution reanalysis COSMO-REA6 from the Hans Ertel Centre for Weather Research (HErZ). The performance of assimilation was assessed against open-loop model simulations and cross-validated with independent ESA CCI-derived soil moisture (CCI-SM) and gridded runoff observations. Our results showed improved estimates of soil moisture, particularly in the summer and autumn seasons when cross-validated with independent CCI-SM observations. The assimilation experiment results also showed overall improvements in runoff, although some regions were degraded, especially in central Europe. The results demonstrated the potential of assimilating satellite soil moisture observations to produce downscaled and improved high-resolution soil moisture and runoff simulations at the continental scale, which is useful for water resources assessment and monitoring.