Quantifying the potential of using SMAP soil moisture variability to predict subsurface water dynamics
Abstract. Advances in satellite Earth observation have opened up new opportunities for a global monitoring of soil moisture (SM) at fine to medium resolution, but satellite remote sensing can only measure the near-surface soil moisture (SSM). As such, it is critically important to examine the potential of satellite SSM measurements to derive the water resource variations in deeper subsurface. This study compares the SSM variability captured by the Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) satellite and the Soil Water Index (SWI) derived from SMAP SSM with subsurface SM and groundwater (GW) dynamics simulated by a high resolution fully-integrated surface water - groundwater model over an agriculturally-dominated watershed in eastern Canada across two spatial scales, namely SMAP product grid (9 km) and watershed (~4000 km2). SMAP measurements compare well with the hydrologic simulations in terms of SSM variability at both scales. Simulated subsurface SM and GW storage show lagged and smoother characteristics relative to SMAP SSM variability with an optimal delay of ~1 days for the 25‒50 cm SM, ~6 days for the 50‒100 cm SM, and ~11 days for the GW storage for both scales. Modelled subsurface SM dynamics agree well with the SWI derived from SMAP SSM using the classic characteristic time lengths (15 days for the 0‒25 cm layer and 20 days for the 0‒100 cm layer). The simulated GW storage showed a slightly delayed variation relative to the derived SWI. The quantified optimal characteristic time length Topt for SWI estimation (by matching the variations in SMAP-derived SWI and modeled root zone SM) is comparable to Topt obtained in other agricultural regions around the world. This work demonstrates SMAP SM measurements as a potentially useful aid when predicting root zone SM and GW dynamics and validating fully integrated hydrologic models across different spatial scales. This study also provides insights into the dynamics of near surface–subsurface water interaction and the capabilities and approaches of satellite-based SM monitoring and high resolution fully-integrated hydrologic modelling.
Quantifying the linkage between SMAP soil moisture and fully-integrated hydrologic simulations https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.8145252
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