Articles | Volume 17, issue 9
Research article
03 Sep 2013
Research article |  | 03 Sep 2013

Improving simulation of soil moisture in China using a multiple meteorological forcing ensemble approach

J.-G. Liu and Z.-H. Xie

Abstract. The quality of soil-moisture simulation using land surface models depends largely on the accuracy of the meteorological forcing data. We investigated how to reduce the uncertainty arising from meteorological forcings in a simulation by adopting a multiple meteorological forcing ensemble approach. Simulations by the Community Land Model version 3.5 (CLM3.5) over mainland China were conducted using four different meteorological forcings, and the four sets of soil-moisture data related to the simulations were then merged using simple arithmetical averaging and Bayesian model averaging (BMA) ensemble approaches. BMA is a statistical post-processing procedure for producing calibrated and sharp predictive probability density functions (PDFs), which is a weighted average of PDFs centered on the bias-corrected forecasts from a set of individual ensemble members based on their probabilistic likelihood measures. Compared to in situ observations, the four simulations captured the spatial and seasonal variations of soil moisture in most cases with some mean bias. They performed differently when simulating the seasonal phases in the annual cycle, the interannual variation and the magnitude of observed soil moisture over different subregions of mainland China, but no individual meteorological forcing performed best for all subregions. The simple arithmetical average ensemble product outperformed most, but not all, individual members over most of the subregions. The BMA ensemble product performed better than simple arithmetical averaging, and performed best for all fields over most of the subregions. The BMA ensemble approach applied to the ensemble simulation reproduced anomalies and seasonal variations in observed soil-moisture values, and simulated the mean soil moisture. It is presented here as a promising way for reproducing long-term, high-resolution spatial and temporal soil-moisture data.