05 Aug 2021
05 Aug 2021
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

High-resolution drought simulations and comparison to soil moisture observations in Germany

Friedrich Boeing1, Oldrich Rakovech1,2, Rohini Kumar1, Luis Samaniego1, Martin Schrön3, Anke Hildebrandt1, Corinna Rebmann1, Stephan Thober1, Sebastian Müller1, Steffen Zacharias3, Heye Bogena4, Katrin Schneider5, Ralf Kiese5, and Andreas Marx1 Friedrich Boeing et al.
  • 1Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Department Computational Hydrosystems, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
  • 2Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Praha-Suchdol 16500, Czech Republic
  • 3Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Department Monitoring and Exploration Technologies, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
  • 4Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Agrosphere Institute (IBG-3), Germany
  • 5Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, IMK-IFU, Ecosystem Matter Fluxes, Kreuzeckbahnstr. 19, 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Abstract. The 2018–2020 consecutive drought events in Germany resulted in impacts related with several sectors such as agriculture, forestry, water management, industry, energy production and transport. A major national operational drought information system is the German Drought Monitor (GDM), launched in 2014. It provides daily soil moisture (SM) simulated with the mesoscale hydrological model (mHM) and its related soil moisture index at a spatial resolution of 4 × 4 km2. Key to preparedness for extreme drought events are high-resolution information systems. The release of the new soil map BUEK200 allowed to increase the model resolution to ~1.2 × 1.2 km2, which is used in the second version of the GDM. In this paper, we explore the ability to provide drought information on the one-kilometer scale in Germany. Therefore, we compare simulated SM dynamics using homogenized and deseasonalized SM observations to evaluate the high-resolution drought simulations of the GDM. These SM observations are obtained from single profile measurements, spatially distributed sensor networks, cosmic-ray neutron stations and lysimeters at 40 sites in Germany. The results show that the agreement of simulated and observed SM dynamics is especially high in the vegetation period (0.84 median correlation R) and lower in winter (0.59 median R). Lower agreement in winter results from methodological uncertainties in simulations as well as in observations. Moderate but significant improvements between the first and second GDM version to observed SM were found in correlations for autumn (+0.07 median R) and winter (+0.12 median R). The annual drought intensity ranking and the spatial structure of drought events over the past 69 years is comparable for the two GDM versions. However, the higher resolution of the second GDM version allows a much more detailed representation of the spatial variability of SM, which is particularly beneficial for local risk assessments. Furthermore, the results underline that nationwide drought information systems depend both on appropriate simulations of the water cycle and a broad, high-quality observational soil moisture database.

Friedrich Boeing et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2021-402', Anonymous Referee #1, 29 Nov 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Friedrich Boeing, 17 Feb 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2021-402', Anonymous Referee #2, 25 Jan 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Friedrich Boeing, 17 Feb 2022

Friedrich Boeing et al.

Friedrich Boeing et al.


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Short summary
In this paper, we deliver an evaluation of the second generation operational German Drought Monitor ( with a state-of-the-art compilation of observed soil moisture data from 40 locations and four different measurement methods in Germany. We show that the expressed stakeholder needs for higher resolution drought information at the one-kilometer scale can be met and that SM dynamics could be moderately improved compared to observations.