Articles | Volume 18, issue 12
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 4791–4806, 2014
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 4791–4806, 2014

Research article 03 Dec 2014

Research article | 03 Dec 2014

High-resolution land surface modeling utilizing remote sensing parameters and the Noah UCM: a case study in the Los Angeles Basin

P. Vahmani1 and T. S. Hogue1,2 P. Vahmani and T. S. Hogue
  • 1University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • 2Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO, USA

Abstract. In the current work we investigate the utility of remote-sensing-based surface parameters in the Noah UCM (urban canopy model) over a highly developed urban area. Landsat and fused Landsat–MODIS data are utilized to generate high-resolution (30 m) monthly spatial maps of green vegetation fraction (GVF), impervious surface area (ISA), albedo, leaf area index (LAI), and emissivity in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The gridded remotely sensed parameter data sets are directly substituted for the land-use/lookup-table-based values in the Noah-UCM modeling framework. Model performance in reproducing ET (evapotranspiration) and LST (land surface temperature) fields is evaluated utilizing Landsat-based LST and ET estimates from CIMIS (California Irrigation Management Information System) stations as well as in situ measurements. Our assessment shows that the large deviations between the spatial distributions and seasonal fluctuations of the default and measured parameter sets lead to significant errors in the model predictions of monthly ET fields (RMSE = 22.06 mm month−1). Results indicate that implemented satellite-derived parameter maps, particularly GVF, enhance the capability of the Noah UCM to reproduce observed ET patterns over vegetated areas in the urban domains (RMSE = 11.77 mm month−1). GVF plays the most significant role in reproducing the observed ET fields, likely due to the interaction with other parameters in the model. Our analysis also shows that remotely sensed GVF and ISA improve the model's capability to predict the LST differences between fully vegetated pixels and highly developed areas.