Articles | Volume 21, issue 11
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 21, 5693–5708, 2017
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 21, 5693–5708, 2017

Research article 16 Nov 2017

Research article | 16 Nov 2017

Effects of high spatial and temporal resolution Earth observations on simulated hydrometeorological variables in a cropland (southwestern France)

Jordi Etchanchu, Vincent Rivalland, Simon Gascoin, Jérôme Cros, Tiphaine Tallec, Aurore Brut, and Gilles Boulet Jordi Etchanchu et al.
  • CESBIO, Université de Toulouse, CNES, CNRS, IRD, UPS, Toulouse, France

Abstract. Agricultural landscapes are often constituted by a patchwork of crop fields whose seasonal evolution is dependent on specific crop rotation patterns and phenologies. This temporal and spatial heterogeneity affects surface hydrometeorological processes and must be taken into account in simulations of land surface and distributed hydrological models. The Sentinel-2 mission allows for the monitoring of land cover and vegetation dynamics at unprecedented spatial resolutions and revisit frequencies (20 m and 5 days, respectively) that are fully compatible with such heterogeneous agricultural landscapes. Here, we evaluate the impact of Sentinel-2-like remote sensing data on the simulation of surface water and energy fluxes via the Interactions between the Surface Biosphere Atmosphere (ISBA) land surface model included in the EXternalized SURface (SURFEX) modeling platform. The study focuses on the effect of the leaf area index (LAI) spatial and temporal variability on these fluxes. We compare the use of the LAI climatology from ECOCLIMAP-II, used by default in SURFEX-ISBA, and time series of LAI derived from the high-resolution Formosat-2 satellite data (8 m). The study area is an agricultural zone in southwestern France covering 576 km2 (24 km  ×  24 km). An innovative plot-scale approach is used, in which each computational unit has a homogeneous vegetation type. Evaluation of the simulations quality is done by comparing model outputs with in situ eddy covariance measurements of latent heat flux (LE). Our results show that the use of LAI derived from high-resolution remote sensing significantly improves simulated evapotranspiration with respect to ECOCLIMAP-II, especially when the surface is covered with summer crops. The comparison with in situ measurements shows an improvement of roughly 0.3 in the correlation coefficient and a decrease of around 30 % of the root mean square error (RMSE) in the simulated evapotranspiration. This finding is attributable to a better description of LAI evolution processes with Formosat-2 data, which further modify soil water content and drainage of soil reservoirs. Effects on annual drainage patterns remain small but significant, i.e., an increase roughly equivalent to 4 % of annual precipitation levels with simulations using Formosat-2 data in comparison to the reference simulation values. This study illustrates the potential for the Sentinel-2 mission to better represent effects of crop management on water budgeting for large, anthropized river basins.

Short summary
This study assesses the contribution of vegetation dynamics and land use products from high-resolution remote sensing data in the soil–vegetation–atmosphere Transfer ISBA model. We used a field-scale approach (each field is a computation cell) to take advantage of the resolution. The simulations done over an agricultural area in southwestern France showed that integrating such products leads to an improvement of the hydrometeorological fluxes like evapotranspiration or drainage.