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Global Evaluation of the ISBA-TRIP Continental Hydrological System. Part I: Comparison to GRACE Terrestrial Water Storage Estimates and In Situ River Discharges

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  • 1 CNRM-GAME, Météo-France, and CNRS, Toulouse, France
  • | 2 CNRS/CNES/Université Toulouse 3, LEGOS/GOHS, Toulouse, France
  • | 3 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
  • | 4 CNRM-GAME, Météo-France, and CNRS, Toulouse, France
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Abstract

In earth system models, the partitioning of precipitation among the variations of continental water storage, evapotranspiration, and freshwater runoff to the ocean has a major influence on the terrestrial water and energy budgets and thereby on simulated climate on a wide range of scales. The evaluation of continental hydrology is therefore a crucial task that requires offline simulations driven by realistic atmospheric forcing to avoid the systematic biases commonly found in global atmospheric models. Generally, this evaluation is done mainly by comparison with in situ river discharge data, which does not guarantee that the spatiotemporal distribution of water storage and evapotranspiration is correctly simulated. In this context, the Interactions between Soil, Biosphere, and Atmosphere–Total Runoff Integrating Pathways (ISBA-TRIP) continental hydrological system of the Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques is evaluated by using the additional constraint of terrestrial water storage (TWS) variations derived from three independent gravity field retrievals (datasets) from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE). On the one hand, the results show that, in general, ISBA-TRIP captures the seasonal and the interannual variability in both TWS and discharges. GRACE provides an additional constraint on the simulated hydrology and consolidates the former evaluation only based on river discharge observations. On the other hand, results indicate that river storage variations represent a significant contribution to GRACE measurements. While this remark highlights the need to improve the TRIP river routing model for a more useful comparison with GRACE [Decharme et al. ( of the present study)], it also suggests that low-resolution gravimetry products do not necessarily represent a strong additional constraint for model evaluation, especially in downstream areas of large river basins where long-term discharge data are available.

Corresponding author address: Ramdane Alkama, CNRM-GAME, Météo-France, and CNRS, URA 1357, 42 av. Gaspard Coriolis, 31057 Toulouse, France. Email: ramdane.alkama@cnrm.meteo.fr

Abstract

In earth system models, the partitioning of precipitation among the variations of continental water storage, evapotranspiration, and freshwater runoff to the ocean has a major influence on the terrestrial water and energy budgets and thereby on simulated climate on a wide range of scales. The evaluation of continental hydrology is therefore a crucial task that requires offline simulations driven by realistic atmospheric forcing to avoid the systematic biases commonly found in global atmospheric models. Generally, this evaluation is done mainly by comparison with in situ river discharge data, which does not guarantee that the spatiotemporal distribution of water storage and evapotranspiration is correctly simulated. In this context, the Interactions between Soil, Biosphere, and Atmosphere–Total Runoff Integrating Pathways (ISBA-TRIP) continental hydrological system of the Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques is evaluated by using the additional constraint of terrestrial water storage (TWS) variations derived from three independent gravity field retrievals (datasets) from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE). On the one hand, the results show that, in general, ISBA-TRIP captures the seasonal and the interannual variability in both TWS and discharges. GRACE provides an additional constraint on the simulated hydrology and consolidates the former evaluation only based on river discharge observations. On the other hand, results indicate that river storage variations represent a significant contribution to GRACE measurements. While this remark highlights the need to improve the TRIP river routing model for a more useful comparison with GRACE [Decharme et al. ( of the present study)], it also suggests that low-resolution gravimetry products do not necessarily represent a strong additional constraint for model evaluation, especially in downstream areas of large river basins where long-term discharge data are available.

Corresponding author address: Ramdane Alkama, CNRM-GAME, Météo-France, and CNRS, URA 1357, 42 av. Gaspard Coriolis, 31057 Toulouse, France. Email: ramdane.alkama@cnrm.meteo.fr

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