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Dongryeol Ryu, Wade T. Crow, Xiwu Zhan, and Thomas J. Jackson

Abstract

Hydrologic data assimilation has become an important tool for improving hydrologic model predictions by using observations from ground, aircraft, and satellite sensors. Among existing data assimilation methods, the ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) provides a robust framework for optimally updating nonlinear model predictions using observations. In the EnKF, background prediction uncertainty is obtained using a Monte Carlo approach where state variables, parameters, and forcing data for the model are synthetically perturbed to explicitly simulate the error-prone representation of hydrologic processes in the model. However, it is shown here that, owing to the nonlinear nature of these processes, an ensemble of model forecasts perturbed by mean-zero Gaussian noise can produce biased background predictions. This ensemble perturbation bias in soil moisture states can lead to significant mass balance errors and degrade the performance of the EnKF analysis in deeper soil layers. Here, a simple method of bias correction is introduced in which such perturbation bias is corrected using an unperturbed model simulation run in parallel with the EnKF analysis. The proposed bias-correction scheme effectively removes biases in soil moisture and reduces soil water mass balance errors. The performance of the EnKF is improved in deeper layers when the filter is applied with the bias-correction scheme. The interplay of nonlinear hydrologic processes is discussed in the context of perturbation biases, and implications of the bias correction for real-data assimilation cases are presented.

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Keyhan Gavahi, Peyman Abbaszadeh, Hamid Moradkhani, Xiwu Zhan, and Christopher Hain

Abstract

Soil moisture (SM) and evapotranspiration (ET) are key variables of the terrestrial water cycle with a strong relationship. This study examines remotely sensed soil moisture and evapotranspiration data assimilation (DA) with the aim of improving drought monitoring. Although numerous efforts have gone into assimilating satellite soil moisture observations into land surface models to improve their predictive skills, little attention has been given to the combined use of soil moisture and evapotranspiration to better characterize hydrologic fluxes. In this study, we assimilate two remotely sensed datasets, namely, Soil Moisture Operational Product System (SMOPS) and MODIS evapotranspiration (MODIS16 ET), at 1-km spatial resolution, into the VIC land surface model by means of an evolutionary particle filter method. To achieve this, a fully parallelized framework based on model and domain decomposition using a parallel divide-and-conquer algorithm was implemented. The findings show improvement in soil moisture predictions by multivariate assimilation of both ET and SM as compared to univariate scenarios. In addition, monthly and weekly drought maps are produced using the updated root-zone soil moisture percentiles over the Apalachicola–Chattahoochee–Flint basin in the southeastern United States. The model-based estimates are then compared against the corresponding U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) archive maps. The results are consistent with the USDM maps during the winter and spring season considering the drought extents; however, the drought severity was found to be slightly higher according to DA method. Comparing different assimilation scenarios showed that ET assimilation results in wetter conditions comparing to open-loop and univariate SM DA. The multivariate DA then combines the effects of the two variables and provides an in-between condition.

Open access
Jifu Yin, Xiwu Zhan, Youfei Zheng, Jicheng Liu, Li Fang, and Christopher R. Hain

Abstract

Many studies that have assimilated remotely sensed soil moisture into land surface models have generally focused on retrievals from a single satellite sensor. However, few studies have evaluated the merits of assimilating ensemble products that are merged soil moisture retrievals from several different sensors. In this study, the assimilation of the Soil Moisture Operational Products System (SMOPS) blended soil moisture (SBSM) product, which is a combination of soil moisture products from WindSat, Advanced Scatterometer (ASCAT), and Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite sensors is examined. Using the ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF), a synthetic experiment is performed on the global domain at 25-km resolution to assess the impact of assimilating the SBSM product. The benefit of assimilating SBSM is assessed by comparing it with in situ observations from U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN) and the Surface Radiation Budget Network (SURFRAD). Time-averaged surface-layer soil moisture fields from SBSM have a higher spatial coverage and generally agree with model simulations in the global patterns of wet and dry regions. The impacts of assimilating SMOPS blended data on model soil moisture and soil temperature are evident in both sparsely and densely vegetated areas. Temporal correlations between in situ observations and net shortwave radiation and net longwave radiation are higher with assimilating SMOPS blended product than without the data assimilation.

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Li Fang, Xiwu Zhan, Christopher R. Hain, Jifu Yin, and Jicheng Liu

Abstract

Green vegetation fraction (GVF) plays a crucial role in the atmosphere–land water and energy exchanges. It is one of the essential parameters in the Noah land surface model (LSM) that serves as the land component of a number of operational numerical weather prediction models at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) of NOAA. The satellite GVF products used in NCEP models are derived from a simple linear conversion of either the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) currently or the enhanced vegetation index (EVI) from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) planned for the near future. Since the NDVI or EVI is a simple spectral index of vegetation cover, GVFs derived from them may lack the biophysical meaning required in the Noah LSM. Moreover, the NDVI- or EVI-based GVF data products may be systematically biased over densely vegetated regions resulting from the saturation issue associated with spectral vegetation indices. On the other hand, the GVF is physically related to the leaf area index (LAI), and thus it could be beneficial to derive GVF from LAI data products. In this paper, the EVI-based and the LAI-based GVF derivation methods are mathematically analyzed and are found to be significantly different from each other. Impacts of GVF differences on the Noah LSM simulations and on weather forecasts of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model are further assessed. Results indicate that LAI-based GVF outperforms the EVI-based one when used in both the offline Noah LSM and WRF Model.

Open access
Peyman Abbaszadeh, Hamid Moradkhani, Keyhan Gavahi, Sujay Kumar, Christopher Hain, Xiwu Zhan, Qingyun Duan, Christa Peters-Lidard, and Sepehr Karimiziarani
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Martha C. Anderson, Christopher Hain, Jason Otkin, Xiwu Zhan, Kingtse Mo, Mark Svoboda, Brian Wardlow, and Agustin Pimstein

Abstract

Comparison of multiple hydrologic indicators, derived from independent data sources and modeling approaches, may improve confidence in signals of emerging drought, particularly during periods of rapid onset. This paper compares the evaporative stress index (ESI)—a diagnostic fast-response indicator describing evapotranspiration (ET) deficits derived within a thermal remote sensing energy balance framework—with prognostic estimates of soil moisture (SM), ET, and runoff anomalies generated with the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS). Widely used empirical indices based on thermal remote sensing [vegetation health index (VHI)] and precipitation percentiles [standardized precipitation index (SPI)] were also included to assess relative performance. Spatial and temporal correlations computed between indices over the contiguous United States were compared with historical drought classifications recorded in the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM). Based on correlation results, improved forms for the ESI were identified, incorporating a Penman–Monteith reference ET scaling flux and implementing a temporal smoothing algorithm at the pixel level. Of all indices evaluated, anomalies in the NLDAS ensemble-averaged SM provided the highest correlations with USDM drought classes, while the ESI yielded the best performance of the remote sensing indices. The VHI provided reasonable correlations, except under conditions of energy-limited vegetation growth during the cold season and at high latitudes. Change indices computed from ESI and SM time series agree well, and in combination offer a good indicator of change in drought severity class in the USDM, often preceding USDM class deterioration by several weeks. Results suggest that a merged ESI–SM change indicator may provide valuable early warning of rapidly evolving “flash drought” conditions.

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Li Fang, Xiwu Zhan, Jifu Yin, Jicheng Liu, Mitchell Schull, Jeffrey P. Walker, Jun Wen, Michael H. Cosh, Tarendra Lakhankar, Chandra Holifield Collins, David D. Bosch, and Patrick J. Starks

Abstract

In the past decade, a variety of algorithms have been introduced to downscale passive microwave soil moisture observations. Some exploit the soil moisture information from optical/thermal sensing of land surface temperature (LST) and vegetation dynamics while others use active microwave (radar) observations. In this study, downscaled soil moisture data at 9- or 1-km resolution from several algorithms are intercompared against in situ soil moisture measurements to determine their reliability in an operational system. The finescale satellite data used here for downscaling the coarse-scale SMAP data are observations of LST from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) and vegetation index (VI) from the NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) for the warm seasons in 2015 and 2016. Three recently developed downscaling algorithms are evaluated and compared: a simple regression algorithm based on 9-km thermal inertial data, a data mining approach called regression tree based on 9- and 1-km LST and VI, and the NASA SMAP enhanced 9-km soil moisture product algorithm. Seven sets of in situ soil moisture data from intensive networks were used for validation, including 1) the CREST-SMART network in Millbrook, New York; 2) Walnut Gulch Watershed in Arizona; 3) Little Washita Watershed in Oklahoma; 4) Fort Cobb Reservoir Experimental Watersheds in Oklahoma; 5) Little River Watershed in Georgia; 6) the Tibetan Plateau network in China, and 7) the OzNet in Australia. Soil moisture measurements of the in situ networks were upscaled to the corresponding SMAP reference pixels at 9 km and used to assess the accuracy of downscaled products at a 9-km scale. Results revealed that the downscaled 9-km soil moisture products generally outperform the 36-km product for most in situ datasets. The linear regression algorithm using the thermal sensing based evaporative stress index (ESI) had the best agreement with the in situ measurements from networks in the contiguous United States according to the site-by-site comparison. In addition, the inertial thermal linear regression method demonstrated the lowest unbiased RMSE when comparing to the matched-up in situ datasets as well. In general, this method is promising for operational generation of fine-resolution soil moisture data product.

Open access
Sid A. Boukabara, Tong Zhu, Hendrik L. Tolman, Steve Lord, Steven Goodman, Robert Atlas, Mitch Goldberg, Thomas Auligne, Bradley Pierce, Lidia Cucurull, Milija Zupanski, Man Zhang, Isaac Moradi, Jason Otkin, David Santek, Brett Hoover, Zhaoxia Pu, Xiwu Zhan, Christopher Hain, Eugenia Kalnay, Daisuke Hotta, Scott Nolin, Eric Bayler, Avichal Mehra, Sean P. F. Casey, Daniel Lindsey, Louie Grasso, V. Krishna Kumar, Alfred Powell, Jianjun Xu, Thomas Greenwald, Joe Zajic, Jun Li, Jinliong Li, Bin Li, Jicheng Liu, Li Fang, Pei Wang, and Tse-Chun Chen

Abstract

In 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began a cooperative initiative with the academic community to help address a vexing issue that has long been known as a disconnection between the operational and research realms for weather forecasting and data assimilation. The issue is the gap, more exotically referred to as the “valley of death,” between efforts within the broader research community and NOAA’s activities, which are heavily driven by operational constraints. With the stated goals of leveraging research community efforts to benefit NOAA’s mission and offering a path to operations for the latest research activities that support the NOAA mission, satellite data assimilation in particular, this initiative aims to enhance the linkage between NOAA’s operational systems and the research efforts. A critical component is the establishment of an efficient operations-to-research (O2R) environment on the Supercomputer for Satellite Simulations and Data Assimilation Studies (S4). This O2R environment is critical for successful research-to-operations (R2O) transitions because it allows rigorous tracking, implementation, and merging of any changes necessary (to operational software codes, scripts, libraries, etc.) to achieve the scientific enhancement. So far, the S4 O2R environment, with close to 4,700 computing cores (60 TFLOPs) and 1,700-TB disk storage capacity, has been a great success and consequently was recently expanded to significantly increase its computing capacity. The objective of this article is to highlight some of the major achievements and benefits of this O2R approach and some lessons learned, with the ultimate goal of inspiring other O2R/R2O initiatives in other areas and for other applications.

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