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Jianzhi Dong, Wade T. Crow, and Rolf Reichle

Abstract

Rain/no-rain detection error is a key source of uncertainty in regional and global precipitation products that propagates into offline hydrological and land surface modeling simulations. Such detection error is difficult to evaluate and/or filter without access to high-quality reference precipitation datasets. For cases where such access is not available, this study proposes a novel approach for improved rain/no-rain detection. Based on categorical triple collocation (CTC) and a probabilistic framework, a weighted merging algorithm (CTC-M) is developed to combine noisy, but independent, precipitation products into an optimal binary rain/no-rain time series. Compared with commonly used approaches that directly apply the best parent product for rain/no-rain detection, the superiority of CTC-M is demonstrated analytically and numerically using spatially dense precipitation measurements over Europe. Our analysis also suggests that CTC-M is tolerant to a range of cross-correlated rain/no-rain detection errors and detection biases of the parent products. As a result, CTC-M will benefit global precipitation estimation by improving the representation of precipitation occurrence in gauge-based and multisource merged precipitation products.

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Yang Lu, Jianzhi Dong, and Susan C. Steele-Dunne

Abstract

The spatial heterogeneity and temporal variation of soil moisture and surface heat fluxes are key to many geophysical and environmental studies. It has been demonstrated that they can be mapped by assimilating soil thermal and wetness information into surface energy balance models. The aim of this work is to determine whether enhancing the spatial resolution or temporal sampling frequency of soil moisture data could improve soil moisture or surface heat flux estimates. Two experiments are conducted in an area mainly covered by grassland, and land surface temperature (LST) observations from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) mission are assimilated together with either an enhanced L-band passive soil moisture product (9 km, 2–3 days) from the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission or a merged product (36 km, quasi-daily) from the SMAP and the Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission. The results suggest that the availability of soil moisture observations is increased by 41% after merging data from the SMAP and the SMOS missions. A comparison with results from a previous study that assimilated a coarser SMAP soil moisture product (36 km, 2–3 days) suggests that enhancing the temporal sampling frequency of soil moisture observations leads to improved soil moisture estimates at both the surface and root zone, and the largest improvement is seen in the bias metric (0.008 and 0.007 m3 m−3 on average at the surface and root zone, respectively). Enhancing the spatial resolution, however, does not significantly improve soil moisture estimates, particularly at the surface. Surface heat flux estimates from assimilating soil moisture data of different spatial or temporal resolutions are very similar.

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Rolf H. Reichle, Qing Liu, Joseph V. Ardizzone, Wade T. Crow, Gabrielle J. M. De Lannoy, Jianzhi Dong, John S. Kimball, and Randal D. Koster

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 1/4°, 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, 1/2°, 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 United States reveals that CPCU precipitation provides most of the skill gained in L4_SM runoff estimates over CTRL.

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Wade T. Crow, Concepcion Arroyo Gomez, Joaquín Muñoz Sabater, Thomas Holmes, Christopher R. Hain, Fangni Lei, Jianzhi Dong, Joseph G. Alfieri, and Martha C. Anderson

Abstract

The assimilation of L-band surface brightness temperature (Tb) into the land surface model (LSM) component of a numerical weather prediction (NWP) system is generally expected to improve the quality of summertime 2-m air temperature (T2m) forecasts during water-limited surface conditions. However, recent retrospective results from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) suggest that the assimilation of L-band Tb from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission may, under certain circumstances, degrade the accuracy of growing-season 24-h T2m forecasts within the central United States. To diagnose the source of this degradation, we evaluate ECMWF soil moisture (SM) and evapotranspiration (ET) forecasts using both in situ and remote sensing resources. Results demonstrate that the assimilation of SMOS Tb broadly improves the ECMWF SM analysis in the central United States while simultaneously degrading the quality of 24-h ET forecasts. Based on a recently derived map of true global SM–ET coupling and a synthetic fraternal twin data assimilation experiment, we argue that the spatial and temporal characteristics of ECMWF SM analyses and ET forecast errors are consistent with the hypothesis that the ECMWF LSM overcouples SM and ET and, as a result, is unable to effectively convert an improved SM analysis into enhanced ET and T2m forecasts. We demonstrate that this overcoupling is likely linked to the systematic underestimation of root-zone soil water storage capacity by LSMs within the U.S. Corn Belt region.

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