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Xiaolei Fu
,
Lifeng Luo
,
Ming Pan
,
Zhongbo Yu
,
Ying Tang
, and
Yongjian Ding

Abstract

Better quantification of the spatiotemporal distribution of soil moisture across different spatial scales contributes significantly to the understanding of land surface processes on the Earth as an integrated system. While observational data for root-zone soil moisture (RZSM) often have sparse spatial coverage, model-simulated soil moisture may provide a useful alternative. TOPMODEL-Based Land Surface–Atmosphere Transfer Scheme (TOPLATS) has been widely studied and actively modified in recent years, while a detailed regional application with evaluation currently is still lacking. Thus, TOPLATS was used to generate high-resolution (30 arc s) RZSM based on coarse-scale (0.125°) forcing data over part of the Arkansas–Red River basin. First, the simulated RZSM was resampled to coarse scale to compare with the results of Mosaic, Noah, and VIC from NLDAS. Second, TOPLATS performance was assessed based on the spatial absolute difference among the models. The comparison shows that TOPLATS performance is similar to VIC, but different from Mosaic and Noah. Last, the simulated RZSM was compared with in situ observations of 16 stations in the study area. The results suggest that the simulated spatial distribution of RZSM is largely consistent with the distribution of topographic index (TI) in most instances, as topography was traditionally considered a major, but not the only, factor in horizontal redistribution of soil moisture. In addition, the finer-resolution RZSM can reflect the in situ soil moisture change at most local sites to a certain degree. The evaluation confirms that TOPLATS is a useful tool to estimate high-resolution soil moisture and has great potential to provide regional soil moisture estimates.

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