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Nina Raoult, Catherine Ottlé, Philippe Peylin, Vladislav Bastrikov, and Pascal Maugis


The rate at which land surface soils dry following rain events is an important feature of terrestrial models. It determines, for example, the water availability for vegetation, the occurrences of droughts, and the surface heat exchanges. As such, surface soil moisture (SSM) “drydowns,” i.e., the SSM temporal dynamics following a significant rainfall event, are of particular interest when evaluating and calibrating land surface models (LSMs). By investigating drydowns, characterized by an exponential decay time scale τ, we aim to improve the representation of SSM in the ORCHIDEE global LSM. We consider τ calculated over 18 International Soil Moisture Network sites found within the footprint of FLUXNET towers, covering different vegetation types and climates. Using the ORCHIDEE LSM, we compare τ from the modeled SSM time series to values computed from in situ SSM measurements. We then assess the potential of using τ observations to constrain some water, carbon, and energy parameters of ORCHIDEE, selected using a sensitivity analysis, through a standard Bayesian optimization procedure. The impact of the SSM optimization is evaluated using FLUXNET evapotranspiration and gross primary production (GPP) data. We find that the relative drydowns of SSM can be well calibrated using observation-based τ estimates, when there is no need to match the absolute observed and modeled SSM values. When evaluated using independent data, τ-calibration parameters were able to improve drydowns for 73% of the sites. Furthermore, the fit of the model to independent fluxes was only minutely changed. We conclude by considering the potential of global satellite products to scale up the experiment to a global-scale optimization.

Open access
Benoit Coudert, Catherine Ottlé, Brice Boudevillain, Jérôme Demarty, and Pierre Guillevic


This study fits within the overall research on the usage of space remote sensing data to constrain land surface models (LSMs) (also called SVAT models for soil–vegetation–atmosphere transfer). The goal of this paper is to analyze the potential of using thermal infrared (TIR) remote sensing data for LSM calibration. LSMs are characterized by a large number of parameters and initial conditions that have to be specified. This model calibration is generally performed at a local scale by minimization between measurements and time series difference. Recent studies have shed light on the use of multiobjective approaches for performing calibration and for analyzing the model’s sensitivity to input parameters. Such an approach has been implemented in the SEtHyS LSM (for “Suivi de l’Etat Hydrique des Sols,” the French acronym for soil moisture monitoring) with the objective of assessing the information contributed by having knowledge of the remote sensing surface brightness temperature. For this purpose, the model calibration was performed in three different cases at field scale corresponding to different calibration design. The analysis of these numerical experiments permits the authors to show the contribution and the limits of TIR remote sensing data for LSM calibration, in various environmental conditions. The perspectives underline the potential of using a dynamic calibration methodology, taking advantage of the time-varying model parameters’ influence.

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Yi Xi, Shushi Peng, Philippe Ciais, Matthieu Guimberteau, Yue Li, Shilong Piao, Xuhui Wang, Jan Polcher, Jiashuo Yu, Xuanze Zhang, Feng Zhou, Yan Bo, Catherine Ottle, and Zun Yin


As an essential source of freshwater river flow comprises ~80% of the water consumed in China. Per capita water resources in China are only a quarter of the global average, and its economy is demanding in water resources; this creates an urgent need to quantify the factors that contribute to changes in river flow. Here, we used an offline process-based land surface model (ORCHIDEE) at high spatial resolution (0.1° × 0.1°) to simulate the contributions of climate change, rising atmospheric CO2 concentration, and land-use change to the change in natural river flow for 10 Chinese basins from 1979 to 2015. We found that climate change, especially an increase in precipitation, was responsible for more than 90% of the changes in natural river flow, while the direct effect of rising CO2 concentration and land-use change contributes at most 6.3%. Nevertheless, rising CO2 concentration and land-use change cannot be neglected in most basins as these two factors significantly change transpiration. From 2003 to 2015, the increase in water consumption offset more than 30% of the increase in natural river flow in northern China, especially in the Yellow River basin (~140%), but it had little effect on observed river flow in southern China. Although the uncertainties of rainfall data and the statistical water consumption data could propagate the uncertainties in simulated river flow, this study could be helpful for water planning and management in China under the context of global warming.

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