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A Comparison of the Triangle Retrieval and Variational Data Assimilation Methods for Surface Turbulent Flux Estimation

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  • 1 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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Abstract

Future operational frameworks for estimating surface turbulent fluxes over the necessary spatial and temporal scales will undoubtedly require the use of remote sensing products. Techniques used to estimate surface fluxes from radiometric surface temperature generally fall into two categories: retrieval-based and data assimilation approaches. Up to this point, there has been little comparison between retrieval- and assimilation-based techniques. In this note, the triangle retrieval method is compared to a variational data assimilation approach for estimating surface turbulent fluxes from radiometric surface temperature observations. Results from a set of synthetic experiments and an application using real data from the First International Satellite Land Surface Climatology Project (ISLSCP) Field Experiment (FIFE) site indicate that the assimilation approach performs slightly better than the triangle method because of the robustness of the estimation to measurement errors and parsimony of the system model, which leads to fewer sources of structural model errors. Future comparison work using retrieval and data assimilation algorithms will provide more insight into the optimal approach for diagnosis of land surface fluxes using remote sensing observations.

Corresponding author address: Steven Margulis, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UCLA, 5732D Boelter Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095. Email: margulis@seas.ucla.edu

Abstract

Future operational frameworks for estimating surface turbulent fluxes over the necessary spatial and temporal scales will undoubtedly require the use of remote sensing products. Techniques used to estimate surface fluxes from radiometric surface temperature generally fall into two categories: retrieval-based and data assimilation approaches. Up to this point, there has been little comparison between retrieval- and assimilation-based techniques. In this note, the triangle retrieval method is compared to a variational data assimilation approach for estimating surface turbulent fluxes from radiometric surface temperature observations. Results from a set of synthetic experiments and an application using real data from the First International Satellite Land Surface Climatology Project (ISLSCP) Field Experiment (FIFE) site indicate that the assimilation approach performs slightly better than the triangle method because of the robustness of the estimation to measurement errors and parsimony of the system model, which leads to fewer sources of structural model errors. Future comparison work using retrieval and data assimilation algorithms will provide more insight into the optimal approach for diagnosis of land surface fluxes using remote sensing observations.

Corresponding author address: Steven Margulis, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UCLA, 5732D Boelter Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095. Email: margulis@seas.ucla.edu

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