Articles | Volume 16, issue 8
Research article
08 Aug 2012
Research article |  | 08 Aug 2012

Improving evapotranspiration in a land surface model using biophysical variables derived from MSG/SEVIRI satellite

N. Ghilain, A. Arboleda, G. Sepulcre-Cantò, O. Batelaan, J. Ardö, and F. Gellens-Meulenberghs

Abstract. Monitoring evapotranspiration over land is highly dependent on the surface state and vegetation dynamics. Data from spaceborn platforms are desirable to complement estimations from land surface models. The success of daily evapotranspiration monitoring at continental scale relies on the availability, quality and continuity of such data. The biophysical variables derived from SEVIRI on board the geostationary satellite Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) and distributed by the Satellite Application Facility on Land surface Analysis (LSA-SAF) are particularly interesting for such applications, as they aimed at providing continuous and consistent daily time series in near-real time over Africa, Europe and South America. In this paper, we compare them to monthly vegetation parameters from a database commonly used in numerical weather predictions (ECOCLIMAP-I), showing the benefits of the new daily products in detecting the spatial and temporal (seasonal and inter-annual) variability of the vegetation, especially relevant over Africa. We propose a method to handle Leaf Area Index (LAI) and Fractional Vegetation Cover (FVC) products for evapotranspiration monitoring with a land surface model at 3–5 km spatial resolution. The method is conceived to be applicable for near-real time processes at continental scale and relies on the use of a land cover map. We assess the impact of using LSA-SAF biophysical variables compared to ECOCLIMAP-I on evapotranspiration estimated by the land surface model H-TESSEL. Comparison with in-situ observations in Europe and Africa shows an improved estimation of the evapotranspiration, especially in semi-arid climates. Finally, the impact on the land surface modelled evapotranspiration is compared over a north–south transect with a large gradient of vegetation and climate in Western Africa using LSA-SAF radiation forcing derived from remote sensing. Differences are highlighted. An evaluation against remote sensing derived land surface temperature shows an improvement of the evapotranspiration simulations.