Water resource monitoring systems and the role of satellite observations
- Water Information R & D Alliance/CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country, G.P.O. Box 1666, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
Abstract. Spatial water resource monitoring systems (SWRMS) can provide valuable information in support of water management, but current operational systems are few and provide only a subset of the information required. Necessary innovations include the explicit description of water redistribution and water use from river and groundwater systems, achieving greater spatial detail (particularly in key features such as irrigated areas and wetlands), and improving accuracy as assessed against hydrometric observations, as well as assimilating those observations. The Australian water resources assessment (AWRA) system aims to achieve this by coupling landscape models with models describing surface water and groundwater dynamics and water use. A review of operational and research applications demonstrates that satellite observations can improve accuracy and spatial detail in hydrological model estimation. All operational systems use dynamic forcing, land cover classifications and a priori parameterisation of vegetation dynamics that are partially or wholly derived from remote sensing. Satellite observations are used to varying degrees in model evaluation and data assimilation. The utility of satellite observations through data assimilation can vary as a function of dominant hydrological processes. Opportunities for improvement are identified, including the development of more accurate and higher spatial and temporal resolution precipitation products, and the use of a greater range of remote sensing products in a priori model parameter estimation, model evaluation and data assimilation. Operational challenges include the continuity of research satellite missions and data services, and the need to find computationally-efficient data assimilation techniques. The successful use of observations critically depends on the availability of detailed information on observational error and understanding of the relationship between remotely-sensed and model variables, as affected by conceptual discrepancies and spatial and temporal scaling.