Articles | Volume 17, issue 1
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 39–62, 2013
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 39–62, 2013

Research article 11 Jan 2013

Research article | 11 Jan 2013

Exploiting remote sensing land surface temperature in distributed hydrological modelling: the example of the Continuum model

F. Silvestro1, S. Gabellani1, F. Delogu1, R. Rudari1, and G. Boni2,1 F. Silvestro et al.
  • 1CIMA research foundation, Savona, Italy
  • 2DIBRIS, University of Genova, Genova, Italy

Abstract. Full process description and distributed hydrological models are very useful tools in hydrology as they can be applied in different contexts and for a wide range of aims such as flood and drought forecasting, water management, and prediction of impact on the hydrologic cycle due to natural and human-induced changes. Since they must mimic a variety of physical processes, they can be very complex and with a high degree of parameterization. This complexity can be increased by necessity of augmenting the number of observable state variables in order to improve model validation or to allow data assimilation.

In this work a model, aiming at balancing the need to reproduce the physical processes with the practical goal of avoiding over-parameterization, is presented. The model is designed to be implemented in different contexts with a special focus on data-scarce environments, e.g. with no streamflow data.

All the main hydrological phenomena are modelled in a distributed way. Mass and energy balance are solved explicitly. Land surface temperature (LST), which is particularly suited to being extensively observed and assimilated, is an explicit state variable.

A performance evaluation, based on both traditional and satellite derived data, is presented with a specific reference to the application in an Italian catchment. The model has been firstly calibrated and validated following a standard approach based on streamflow data. The capability of the model in reproducing both the streamflow measurements and the land surface temperature from satellites has been investigated.

The model has been then calibrated using satellite data and geomorphologic characteristics of the basin in order to test its application on a basin where standard hydrologic observations (e.g. streamflow data) are not available. The results have been compared with those obtained by the standard calibration strategy based on streamflow data.

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