Articles | Volume 10, issue 3
17 May 2006
17 May 2006

Assimilating scatterometer soil moisture data into conceptual hydrologic models at the regional scale

J. Parajka, V. Naeimi, G. Blöschl, W. Wagner, R. Merz, and K. Scipal

Abstract. This paper examines the potential of scatterometer data from ERS satellites for improving hydrological simulations in both gauged and ungauged catchments. We compare the soil moisture dynamics simulated by a semidistributed hydrologic model in 320 Austrian catchments with the soil moisture dynamics inferred from the satellite data. The most apparent differences occur in the Alpine areas. Assimilating the scatterometer data into the hydrologic model during the calibration phase improves the relationship between the two soil moisture estimates without any significant decrease in runoff model efficiency. For the case of ungauged catchments, assimilating scatterometer data does not improve the daily runoff simulations but does provide more consistent soil moisture estimates. If the main interest is in obtaining estimates of catchment soil moisture, reconciling the two sources of soil moisture information seems to be of value because of the different error structures.