Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2016-657
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
13 Dec 2016
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper was accepted for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) and is expected to appear here in due course.
On the effect of the uncertainty in soil properties on the simulated hydrological state and fluxes at different spatio-temporal scales
Gabriele Baroni1,2, Matthias Zink1, Rohini Kumar1, Luis Samaniego1, and Sabine Attinger1,2 1Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Department Computational Hydrosystems, Permoserstrasse 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
2Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24–25, 14476 Potsdam, Germany
Abstract. Soil properties show high heterogeneity at different spatial scales and their correct characterization remains a crucial challenge over large areas. The aim of the study is to quantify the impact of different types of uncertainties that arise from the unresolved soil spatial variability on simulated hydrological states and fluxes. Three perturbation methods are presented for the characterization of the uncertainties in soil properties. The methods are applied at the soil map of the upper Neckar catchment (Germany), as example. The uncertainties are propagated based on the distributed hydrological model mHM to assess the impact of the simulated state and fluxes. The model outputs are analysed by aggregating the results at different spatial and temporal scales. These results show that the impact of the different uncertainties introduced in the original soil map is equivalent when the simulated model outputs are analysed at the model grid resolution (i.e., 500 m). However, several differences are identified by aggregating state and fluxes at different spatial scales (by subcatchments of different sizes or coarsening the grid resolution). Streamflow is only sensitive to the perturbation of long spatial structures while distributed state and fluxes (e.g., soil moisture and groundwater recharge) are only sensitive to the local noise introduced to the original soil properties. A clear identification of the temporal and spatial scale for which finer resolution soil information is (or not) relevant is unlikely to be universal. However, the comparison of the impacts on the different hydrological components can be used to prioritize the model improvements in specific applications, either by collecting new measurements or by calibration and data assimilation approaches. In conclusion, the study underlines the importance of a correct characterization of the uncertainty in soil properties. With that, soil map with additional information regarding the unresolved soil spatial variability would provide a strong support to hydrological modelling applications.

Citation: Baroni, G., Zink, M., Kumar, R., Samaniego, L., and Attinger, S.: On the effect of the uncertainty in soil properties on the simulated hydrological state and fluxes at different spatio-temporal scales, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-657, in review, 2016.
Gabriele Baroni et al.
Interactive discussionStatus: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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RC1: 'Review comments', Anonymous Referee #1, 15 Dec 2016 Printer-friendly Version 
AC1: 'Reply to Reviewer #1', Gabriele Baroni, 20 Dec 2016 Printer-friendly Version Supplement 
 
RC2: 'Review', Anonymous Referee #2, 13 Jan 2017 Printer-friendly Version 
AC2: 'Reply to Reviewer #2', Gabriele Baroni, 18 Jan 2017 Printer-friendly Version Supplement 
Gabriele Baroni et al.
Gabriele Baroni et al.

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Short summary
Three methods are used to characterize the uncertainty in soil properties. The effect on simulated state and fluxes is quantified using a distributed hydrological model. Different impacts are identified as function of the perturbation method, of the model outputs and of the spatio-temporal resolution. The study underlines the importance of a proper characterization of the uncertainty in soil properties for a correct assessment of their role and further improvements in the model application.
Three methods are used to characterize the uncertainty in soil properties. The effect on...
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