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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Remote Sensing Observatory for Hydrological Sciences: a Genesis for Scaling to Continental Hydrology

item Krajewski, Witold - UNIVERSITY OF IOWA
item Anderson, Martha
item Entekhabi, Dara - MIT
item Hornbuckle, Brian - IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY
item Katul, Gabriel - DUKE UNIVERSITY
item Kustas, William
item Peters-Lidard, Christa - NASA GSFC

Submitted to: Water Resources Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 10, 2006
Publication Date: July 13, 2006
Citation: Krajewski, W.F., Anderson, M.C., Entekhabi, D., Hornbuckle, B.K., Houser, P.R., Katul, G.G., Kustas, W.P., Norman, J.M., Peters-Lidard, C., Wood, E.F. 2006. A remote sensing observatory for hydrological sciences: A genesis for scaling to continental hydrology. Water Resources Research. 42, W07301.

Interpretive Summary: Remote sensing is rapidly becoming a very important tool for hydrologic research. There is no better way to collect spatially distributed data over a large area, e.g. at the watershed scale. The data products (e.g., evapotranspiration, precipitation, soil moisture, etc.) created by remote sensing require validation; however, there are few experimental sites instrumented to collect data at the appropriate scales and spatial coverage. This paper outlines the need for a “Remote Sensing Observatory” for the hydrologic sciences. Such an observatory would collect requisite validation measurements over a 10x10km area, with measurement sites strategically located to sample the extent heterogeneity in the landscape. The paper describes how such an observatory would be useful for land-use/landcover change studies, for scaling hydrologic variables, for refining techniques for assimilating various forms of remote sensing data into hydrologic modeling platforms, and for validating regional-scale models.

Technical Abstract: Uncertainties in assessing the effects of global-scale perturbations on the climate system arise primarily from an inadequate understanding of the hydrological cycle – on land, in oceans, in the atmosphere and biosphere. Because of this uncertainty, almost all science-based initiatives have expressed the need for continued advances in global observations and modeling of the Earth system. It is in this spirit that we advocate establishing a hydrologic Remote Sensing Observatory (RSO) to advance sensing technologies and their use in scientific inquiry into hydrologic processes. There are two fundamental reasons why establishing such a RSO is timely. The first is operational – developing assimilation techniques to estimate unobserved fluxes and uncertainties in hydrologic forecasts has sufficiently matured to take advantage of computing facilities and detailed hydrologic observations shaped by the RSO. The second is scientific – this RSO will permit us to refine knowledge from physical and hydrologic models that can then be converted to local and global strategies for water resources management and ecosystem health evaluation. The authors outline the conceptual design, scope, and functionality of a RSO, and present four examples to illustrate how the hydrologic community can take advantage of such facility.

Last Modified: 2/1/2015
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