Articles | Volume 15, issue 10
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 3101–3114, 2011

Special issue: Looking at catchments in colors: new ways of generating, combining...

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 3101–3114, 2011

Research article 11 Oct 2011

Research article | 11 Oct 2011

Integrating coarse-scale uncertain soil moisture data into a fine-scale hydrological modelling scenario

H. Vernieuwe1, B. De Baets1, J. Minet2, V. R. N. Pauwels3, S. Lambot2, M. Vanclooster2, and N. E. C. Verhoest3 H. Vernieuwe et al.
  • 1Department of Mathematical Modelling, Statistics and Bioinformatics, Ghent University, Coupure links 653, 9000 Gent, Belgium
  • 2Earth and Life Institute-Environmental Sciences, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium
  • 3Laboratory of Hydrology and Water Management, Ghent University, Coupure links 653, 9000 Gent, Belgium

Abstract. In a hydrological modelling scenario, often the modeller is confronted with external data, such as remotely-sensed soil moisture observations, that become available to update the model output. However, the scale triplet (spacing, extent and support) of these data is often inconsistent with that of the model. Furthermore, the external data can be cursed with epistemic uncertainty. Hence, a method is needed that not only integrates the external data into the model, but that also takes into account the difference in scale and the uncertainty of the observations. In this paper, a synthetic hydrological modelling scenario is set up in which a high-resolution distributed hydrological model is run over an agricultural field. At regular time steps, coarse-scale field-averaged soil moisture data, described by means of possibility distributions (epistemic uncertainty), are retrieved by synthetic aperture radar and assimilated into the model. A method is presented that allows to integrate the coarse-scale possibility distribution of soil moisture content data with the fine-scale model-based soil moisture data. The method is subdivided in two steps. The first step, the disaggregation step, employs a scaling relationship between field-averaged soil moisture content data and its corresponding standard deviation. In the second step, the soil moisture content values are updated using two alternative methods.