Data-model comparison of temporal variability in long-term time series of large-scale soil moisture

Lucile Verrot, Georgia Destouni

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11 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Soil moisture is at the heart of many processes connected to water cycle, climate, ecosystem, and societal conditions. This paper investigates the ability of a relatively simple analytical soil moisture model to reproduce temporal variability dynamics in long-term data series for (i) remotely sensed large-scale water storage change in 25 large catchments around the world and (ii) measured soil water content and groundwater level in individual stations within 10 smaller catchments across the United States. The model-data comparison for large-scale water storage change (i) shows good model ability to reproduce the observed temporal variability around long-term average conditions in most of the large study catchments. Also, the model comparison with locally measured data for soil water content and groundwater level in the smaller U.S. catchments (ii) shows good representation of relative seasonal and longer-term fluctuations and their timings and frequencies. Overall, the model results tend to underestimate rather than exaggerate the range of temporal soil moisture fluctuations and storage changes. The model synthesis of large-scale hydroclimatic data is based on fundamental catchment-scale water balance and is as such useful for identifying flux imbalance biases in the hydroclimatic data series that are used as model inputs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10,056–10,073
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number17
Early online date15 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2016

Bibliographical note


This work has been supported by the Swedish University strategic environmental research program Ekoklim and the Swedish Research Council Formas (project 2012-790). The soil moisture data were downloaded from the Ameriflux website: funding for AmeriFlux data resources was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. GPCC Precipitation data, GHCN Gridded V2 data, NARR data, and CPC US Unified Precipitation data were obtained from the Web site of NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA, at


  • soil moisture
  • groundwater
  • hydroclimate
  • long-term dynamics
  • scaling
  • catchment hydrology


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