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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
01 Nov 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS). The manuscript was not accepted for further review after discussion.
High-Resolution Virtual Catchment Simulations of the Subsurface-Land Surface-Atmosphere System
Bernd Schalge1, Jehan Rihani2, Gabriele Baroni3,4, Daniel Erdal5, Gernot Geppert6, Vincent Haefliger1, Barbara Haese7, Pablo Saavedra1, Insa Neuweiler8, Harrie-Jan Hendricks Franssen9,11, Felix Ament6, Sabine Attinger3, Olaf A. Cirpka5, Stefan Kollet9,11, Harald Kunstmann7,10, Harry Vereecken9,11, and Clemens Simmer1 1University of Bonn, Meteorological Insititute, Bonn, Germany
2University of Cologne, Mathematical Institute, Cologne, Germany
3Helmholtz-Center for Environmental Research, Leipzig, Germany
4University of Potsdam, Institute of Earth and Envirenmental Science, Potsdam, Germany
5University of Tuebingen, Center for Applied Geoscience, Tuebingen, Germany
6University of Hamburg, Meteorological Insititute, Hamburg, Germany
7University of Augsburg, Institut fuer Geographie, Augsburg, Germany
8Leibniz University Hannover, Institut fuer Stroemungsmechanik und Umweltphysik im Bauwesen, Hannover, Germany
9Forschungszentrum Juelich GmbH, Agrosphere (IBG-3), Juelich, Germany
10Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-IFU), Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany
11Centre for High-Performance Scientific Computing (HPSC-TerrSys), Geoverbund ABC/J, Juelich, Germany
Abstract. Combining numerical models, which simulate water and energy fluxes in the subsurface-land surface-atmosphere system in a physically consistent way, becomes increasingly important to understand and study fluxes at compartmental boundaries and interdependencies of states across these boundaries. Complete state evolutions generated by such models, when run at highest possible resolutions while incorporating as many processes as attainable, may be regarded as a proxy of the real world – a virtual reality – which can be used to test hypotheses on functioning of the coupled terrestrial system and may serve as source for virtual measurements to develop data-assimilation methods. Such simulation systems, however, face severe problems caused by the vastly different scales of the processes acting in the compartments of the terrestrial system. The present study is motivated by the development of cross-compartmental data-assimilation methods, which face the difficulty of data scarcity in the subsurface when applied to real data. With appropriate and realistic measurement operators, the virtual reality not only allows taking virtual observations in any part of the terrestrial system at any density, thus overcoming data-scarcity problems of real-world applications, but also provides full information about true states and parameters aimed to be reconstructed from the measurements by data assimilation. In the present study, we have used the Terrestrial Systems Modeling Platform TerrSysMP, which couples the meteorological model COSMO, the land-surface model CLM, and the subsurface model ParFlow, to set up the virtual reality for a regional terrestrial system roughly oriented at the Neckar catchment in southwest Germany. We find that the virtual reality is in many aspects quite close to real observations of the catchment concerning, e.g., atmospheric boundary-layer height, precipitation, and runoff. But also discrepancies become apparent both in the ability of such models to correctly simulate some processes – which still need improvement – and the realism of the results of some observation operators like the SMOS and SMAP sensors, when faced with model states. In a succeeding step, we will use the virtual reality to generate observations in all compartments of the system for coupled data assimilation. The data assimilation will rely on a coarsened and simplified version of the model system.

Citation: Schalge, B., Rihani, J., Baroni, G., Erdal, D., Geppert, G., Haefliger, V., Haese, B., Saavedra, P., Neuweiler, I., Hendricks Franssen, H.-J., Ament, F., Attinger, S., Cirpka, O. A., Kollet, S., Kunstmann, H., Vereecken, H., and Simmer, C.: High-Resolution Virtual Catchment Simulations of the Subsurface-Land Surface-Atmosphere System, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss.,, 2016.
Bernd Schalge et al.
Bernd Schalge et al.
Bernd Schalge et al.


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Short summary
In this work we show how we used a coupled atmosphere-land surface-subsurface model at highest possible resolution to create a testbed for data assimilation. The model was able to capture all important processes and interactions between the compartments as well as showing realistic statistical behavior. This proves that using a model as a virtual truth is possible and it will enable us to develop data assimilation methods where states and parameters are updated across compartment.
In this work we show how we used a coupled atmosphere-land surface-subsurface model at highest...