The Contributions of Gauge-Based Precipitation and SMAP Brightness Temperature Observations to the Skill of the SMAP Level-4 Soil Moisture Product

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  • 1 Global Modeling and Assimilation Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
  • 2 Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Lanham, MD, USA
  • 3 Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, MD, USA
  • 4 Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, KU Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium
  • 5 NTSG, University of Montana, Missoula, MT, USA
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Abstract

Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission L-band brightness temperature (Tb) observations are routinely assimilated into the Catchment land surface model to generate Level-4 Soil Moisture (L4_SM) estimates of global surface and root-zone soil moisture at 9-km, 3-hourly resolution with ~2.5-day latency. The Catchment model in the L4_SM algorithm is driven with ¼-degree, hourly surface meteorological forcing data from the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS). Outside of Africa and the high latitudes, GEOS precipitation is corrected using Climate Prediction Center Unified (CPCU) gauge-based, ½-degree, daily precipitation. L4_SM soil moisture was previously shown to improve over land model-only estimates that use CPCU precipitation but no Tb assimilation (CPCU_SIM). Here, we additionally examine the skill of model-only (CTRL) and Tb assimilation-only (SMAP_DA) estimates derived without CPCU precipitation. Soil moisture is assessed versus in situ measurements in well-instrumented regions and globally through the Instrumental Variable (IV) method using independent soil moisture retrievals from the Advanced Scatterometer. At the in situ locations, SMAP_DA and CPCU_SIM have comparable soil moisture skill improvements relative to CTRL for the unbiased root-mean-square error (surface and root-zone) and correlation metrics (root-zone only). In the global average, SMAP Tb assimilation increases the surface soil moisture anomaly correlation by 0.10-0.11 compared to an increase of 0.02-0.03 from the CPCU-based precipitation corrections. The contrast is particularly strong in central Australia, where CPCU is known to have errors and observation-minus-forecast Tb residuals are larger when CPCU precipitation is used. Validation versus streamflow measurements in the contiguous U.S. reveals that CPCU precipitation provides most of the skill gained in L4_SM runoff estimates over CTRL.

Corresponding author address: Rolf H. Reichle, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (Code 610.1), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA, Tel.: +1-301-614-5693, Email: rolf.reichle@nasa.gov

Abstract

Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission L-band brightness temperature (Tb) observations are routinely assimilated into the Catchment land surface model to generate Level-4 Soil Moisture (L4_SM) estimates of global surface and root-zone soil moisture at 9-km, 3-hourly resolution with ~2.5-day latency. The Catchment model in the L4_SM algorithm is driven with ¼-degree, hourly surface meteorological forcing data from the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS). Outside of Africa and the high latitudes, GEOS precipitation is corrected using Climate Prediction Center Unified (CPCU) gauge-based, ½-degree, daily precipitation. L4_SM soil moisture was previously shown to improve over land model-only estimates that use CPCU precipitation but no Tb assimilation (CPCU_SIM). Here, we additionally examine the skill of model-only (CTRL) and Tb assimilation-only (SMAP_DA) estimates derived without CPCU precipitation. Soil moisture is assessed versus in situ measurements in well-instrumented regions and globally through the Instrumental Variable (IV) method using independent soil moisture retrievals from the Advanced Scatterometer. At the in situ locations, SMAP_DA and CPCU_SIM have comparable soil moisture skill improvements relative to CTRL for the unbiased root-mean-square error (surface and root-zone) and correlation metrics (root-zone only). In the global average, SMAP Tb assimilation increases the surface soil moisture anomaly correlation by 0.10-0.11 compared to an increase of 0.02-0.03 from the CPCU-based precipitation corrections. The contrast is particularly strong in central Australia, where CPCU is known to have errors and observation-minus-forecast Tb residuals are larger when CPCU precipitation is used. Validation versus streamflow measurements in the contiguous U.S. reveals that CPCU precipitation provides most of the skill gained in L4_SM runoff estimates over CTRL.

Corresponding author address: Rolf H. Reichle, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (Code 610.1), 8800 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA, Tel.: +1-301-614-5693, Email: rolf.reichle@nasa.gov
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