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Jasmin Vural, Stefan Schneider, Bernhard Bauer-Marschallinger, and Klaus Haslinger


The proper determination of soil moisture on different scales is important for applications in a variety of fields. We aim to develop a high-level soil moisture product with high temporal and spatial resolution by assimilating the multilayer soil moisture product SCATSAR-SWI (Scatterometer Synthetic Aperture Radar Soil Water Index) into the surface model SURFEX. In addition, we probe the impact of the findings on the NumericalWeather Prediction (NWP) in Austria. The data assimilation system consists of the NWP model AROME and the SURFEX Offline Data Assimilation, which provide atmospheric forcing and soil moisture fields as mutual input. To address the known sensitivity of the employed simplified Extended Kalman Filter to the specification of errors, we compute the observation error variances of the SCATSAR-SWI locally using Triple Collocation Analysis and implement them into the assimilation system. The verification of the forecasted 2 m temperature and relative humidity against measurements of Austrian weather stations shows that the actual impact of the local error approach on the atmospheric forecast is slightly positive to neutral compared to the standard error approach, depending on the time of the year. The direct verification of the soil moisture analysis against a gridded water balance product reveals a degradation of the unbiased root mean square error for small observation errors.

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Bernhard Bauer-Marschallinger, Wouter A. Dorigo, Wolfgang Wagner, and Albert I. J. M. van Dijk


Australia is frequently subject to droughts and floods. Its hydrology is strongly connected to oceanic and atmospheric oscillations (climate modes) such as the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Indian Ocean dipole (IOD), and southern annular mode (SAM). A global 32-yr dataset of remotely sensed surface soil moisture (SSM) was used to examine hydrological variations in mainland Australia for the period 1978–2010. Complex empirical orthogonal function (CEOF) analysis was applied to extract independent signals and to investigate their relationships to climate modes. The annual cycle signal represented 46.3% of the total variance and a low but highly significant connection with SAM was found. Two multiannual signals with a lesser share in total variance (6.3% and 4.2%) were identified. The first one had an unstable period of 2–5 yr and reflected an east–west pattern that can be associated with ENSO and SAM but not with IOD. The second one, a 1- to 5-yr oscillation, formed a dipole pattern between the west and north and can be linked to ENSO and IOD. As expected, relationships with ENSO were found throughout the year and are especially strong during southern spring and summer in the east and north. Somewhat unexpectedly, SAM impacts strongest in the north and east during summer and is proposed as the key driver of the annual SSM signal. The IOD explains SSM variations in the north, east, and southeast during spring and also in the west during winter.

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