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

High resolution satellite products improve hydrological modeling in northern Italy

Lorenzo Alfieri1, Francesco Avanzi1, Fabio Delogu1, Simone Gabellani1, Giulia Bruno1, Lorenzo Campo1, Andrea Libertino1, Christian Massari2, Angelica Tarpanelli2, Dominik Rains3, Diego G. Miralles3, Raphael Quast4, Mariette Vreugdenhil4, Huan Wu5,6, and Luca Brocca2 Lorenzo Alfieri et al.
  • 1CIMA Research Foundation, University Campus of Savona, Savona, 17100, Italy
  • 2National Research Council, Research Institute for Geo-Hydrological Protection, Perugia, 06128, Italy
  • 3Hydro-Climate Extremes Lab (H-CEL), Ghent University, Gent, 9000, Belgium
  • 4Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation, TU Wien, Vienna, 1040, Austria
  • 5Southern Marine Science and Engineering Laboratory (Zhuhai), Zhuhai, 519082, China
  • 6School of Atmospheric Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, 510275, China

Abstract. Satellite Earth observations (EO) are an accurate and reliable data source for atmospheric and environmental science. Their increasing spatial and temporal resolution, as well as the seamless availability over ungauged regions, make them appealing for hydrological modeling. This work shows recent advances in the use of high-resolution satellite-based Earth observation data in hydrological modelling. In a set of experiments, the distributed hydrological model Continuum is set up for the Po River Basin (Italy) and forced, in turn, by satellite precipitation and evaporation, while satellite-derived soil moisture and snow depths are ingested into the model structure through a data-assimilation scheme. Further, satellite-based estimates of precipitation, evaporation and river discharge are used for hydrological model calibration, and results are compared with those based on ground observations. Despite the high density of conventional ground measurements and the strong human influence in the focus region, all satellite products show strong potential for operational hydrological applications, with skillful estimates of river discharge throughout the model domain. Satellite-based evaporation and snow depths marginally improve (by 2 % and 4 %) the mean Kling-Gupta efficiency (KGE) at 27 river gauges, compared to a baseline simulation (KGEmean = 0.51) forced by high-quality conventional data. Precipitation has the largest impact on the model output, though the satellite dataset on average shows poorer skills compared to conventional data. Interestingly, a model calibration heavily relying on satellite data, as opposed to conventional data, provides a skillful reconstruction of river discharges, paving the way to fully satellite-driven hydrological applications.

Lorenzo Alfieri 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-2021-632', Anonymous Referee #1, 14 Feb 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Lorenzo Alfieri, 05 May 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2021-632', Anonymous Referee #2, 14 Feb 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Lorenzo Alfieri, 05 May 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on hess-2021-632', Anonymous Referee #3, 21 Apr 2022
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Lorenzo Alfieri, 05 May 2022

Lorenzo Alfieri et al.

Lorenzo Alfieri et al.


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Short summary
This work shows advances in high resolution satellite data for hydrology. We performed hydrological simulations for the Po River Basin using various satellite products, including precipitation, evaporation, soil moisture and snow depth. Evaporation and snow depth improved a simulation based on high quality ground observations. Interestingly, a model calibration relying on satellite data skillfully reproduces observed discharges, paving the way to satellite-driven hydrological applications.