Soil Moisture and Streamflow Data Assimilation for Streamflow Prediction in the Narmada River Basin

Ved Prakash aCivil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, India

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Vimal Mishra aCivil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, India
bEarth Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, India

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Abstract

An accurate streamflow forecast is vital for flood prediction and early warning systems. Notwithstanding the rising frequency and intensity of floods during the summer monsoon season in India, efforts to examine the utility of data assimilation (DA) for streamflow prediction remain limited. We examine soil moisture and streamflow DA to improve streamflow simulations in the Narmada River basin, considered a testbed. Data assimilation was performed using the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model at four gauge stations in the basin. First, we used the ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) to assimilate the satellite soil moisture from the European Space Agency Climate Change Initiative (ESA-CCI) to the initial state of the VIC model. We examined the usefulness of observed streamflow from the India Water Resources Information System (India-WRIS) to improve the initial hydrological conditions of the VIC model in the streamflow DA during the summer monsoon (June–September) season from 1980 to 2018. The assimilation of ESA-CCI soil moisture showed less improvement in percent error reduction (PER) and efficiency index (EFF) (less than 2%) than the streamflow DA at all of the four gauge locations in the Narmada basin. On the other hand, the streamflow DA showed a significant improvement in PER and EFF (more than 10%) at all the gauge stations for both mean and high-flow conditions. Streamflow data assimilation improved errors in the magnitude and timing for the major floods in 1994 and 2013.

Significance Statement

India is considerably affected by floods during the summer monsoon. Floods have increased and are projected to become more frequent under the warming climate. Flood prediction and early warning systems are essential in reducing their impacts and exposure. In the present study, we are interested in examining the role of soil moisture and streamflow data assimilation on flood prediction in the Narmada River basin. Our results show that streamflow data assimilation is more effective in reducing errors and bias in streamflow prediction than soil moisture data assimilation. The hydrologic framework used for the Narmada basin can be extended and evaluated to other flood-prone basins in India.

© 2023 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Vimal Mishra, vmishra@iitgn.ac.in

Abstract

An accurate streamflow forecast is vital for flood prediction and early warning systems. Notwithstanding the rising frequency and intensity of floods during the summer monsoon season in India, efforts to examine the utility of data assimilation (DA) for streamflow prediction remain limited. We examine soil moisture and streamflow DA to improve streamflow simulations in the Narmada River basin, considered a testbed. Data assimilation was performed using the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model at four gauge stations in the basin. First, we used the ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) to assimilate the satellite soil moisture from the European Space Agency Climate Change Initiative (ESA-CCI) to the initial state of the VIC model. We examined the usefulness of observed streamflow from the India Water Resources Information System (India-WRIS) to improve the initial hydrological conditions of the VIC model in the streamflow DA during the summer monsoon (June–September) season from 1980 to 2018. The assimilation of ESA-CCI soil moisture showed less improvement in percent error reduction (PER) and efficiency index (EFF) (less than 2%) than the streamflow DA at all of the four gauge locations in the Narmada basin. On the other hand, the streamflow DA showed a significant improvement in PER and EFF (more than 10%) at all the gauge stations for both mean and high-flow conditions. Streamflow data assimilation improved errors in the magnitude and timing for the major floods in 1994 and 2013.

Significance Statement

India is considerably affected by floods during the summer monsoon. Floods have increased and are projected to become more frequent under the warming climate. Flood prediction and early warning systems are essential in reducing their impacts and exposure. In the present study, we are interested in examining the role of soil moisture and streamflow data assimilation on flood prediction in the Narmada River basin. Our results show that streamflow data assimilation is more effective in reducing errors and bias in streamflow prediction than soil moisture data assimilation. The hydrologic framework used for the Narmada basin can be extended and evaluated to other flood-prone basins in India.

© 2023 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Vimal Mishra, vmishra@iitgn.ac.in

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