Global Hydrological and Land Surface Models (GHM/LSMs) embody numerous interacting predictors and equations, complicating the diagnosis of primary hydrological relationships. We propose a model diagnostic approach based on Random Forest feature importance to detect the input variables that most influence simulated hydrological processes. We analyzed the JULES, ORCHIDEE, HTESSEL, SURFEX and PCR-GLOBWB models for the relative importance of precipitation, climate, soil, land cover and topographic slope as predictors of simulated average evaporation, runoff, and surface and subsurface runoffs. The machine learning model could reproduce GHM/LSMs outputs with a coefficient of determination over 0.85 in all cases and often considerably better. The GHM/LSMs agreed precipitation, climate and land cover share equal importance for evaporation prediction, and mean precipitation is the most important predictor of runoff. However, the GHM/LSMs disagreed on which features determine surface and subsurface runoff processes, especially with regards to the relative importance of soil texture and topographic slope.
NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission has been validating its soil moisture (SM) products since the start of data production on March 31, 2015. Prior to launch, the mission defined a set of criteria for core validation sites (CVS) that enable the testing of the key mission SM accuracy requirement (unbiased root-mean-square error <0.04 m3/m3). The validation approach also includes other (“sparse network”) in situ SM measurements, satellite SM products, model-based SM products, and field experiments. Over the past six years, the SMAP SM products have been analyzed with respect to these reference data, and the analysis approaches themselves have been scrutinized in an effort to best understand the products’ performance. Validation of the most recent SMAP Level 2 and 3 SM retrieval products (R17000) shows that the L-band (1.4 GHz) radiometer-based SM record continues to meet mission requirements. The products are generally consistent with SM retrievals from the ESA Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity mission, although there are differences in some regions. The high-resolution (3-km) SM retrieval product, generated by combining Copernicus Sentinel-1 data with SMAP observations, performs within expectations. Currently, however, there is limited availability of 3-km CVS data to support extensive validation at this spatial scale. The most recent (version 5) SMAP Level 4 SM data assimilation product providing surface and root-zone SM with complete spatio-temporal coverage at 9-km resolution also meets performance requirements. The SMAP SM validation program will continue throughout the mission life; future plans include expanding it to forested and high-latitude regions.
The FAO Water Productivity Open Access Portal (WaPOR) offers continuous actual evapotranspiration and interception (ETIa-WPR) data at a 10-day basis across Africa and the Middle East from 2009 onwards at three spatial resolutions. The continental level (250m) covers Africa and the Middle East (L1). The national level (100m) covers 21 countries and four river basins (L2). The third level (30m) covers eight irrigation areas (L3). To quantify the uncertainty of WaPOR version 2 (V2.0) ETIa-WPR in Africa, we used a number of validation methods. We checked the physical consistency against water availability and the long term water balance and then verify the continental spatial and temporal trends for the major climates in Africa. We directly validated ETIa-WPR against in-situ data of 14 eddy covariance stations (EC). Finally, we checked the level consistency between the different spatial resolutions. Our findings indicate that ETIa-WPR is performing well, but with some noticeable overestimation. The ETIa-WPR is showing expected spatial and temporal consistency with respect to climate classes. ETIa-WPR shows mixed results at point scale as compared to EC flux towers with an overall R2 of 0.61, and a root mean square error of 1.04 mm/day. The level consistency is very high between L1 and L2. However, the consistency between L1 and L3 varies significantly between irrigation areas. In rainfed areas, the ETIa-WPR is overestimating at low ETIa-WPR and underestimating when ETIa is high. In irrigated areas, ETIa-WPR values appear to be consistently overestimating ETa. The soil moisture content, the input of quality layers and local advection effects were some of the identified causes. The quality assessment of ETIa-WPR product is enhanced by combining multiple evaluation methods. Based on the results, the ETIa-WaPOR dataset is of enough quality to contribute to the understanding and monitoring of local and continental water processes and water management.