Predicting a really ungauged basin

Over three years ago we developed a hydrological model for a truly ungauged basin in southern Cambodia, for we collected ‘soft’ data in the field. After many iterations, our paper on it has finally been accepted and published!

It’s completely open access, so check it out HERE

Abstract: The hydrological decade on Predictions in Ungauged Basins (PUB) led to many new insights in model development, calibration strategies, data acquisition and uncertainty analysis. Due to a limited amount of published studies on genuinely ungauged basins, model validation and realism assessment of model outcome has not been discussed to a great extent. With this paper we aim to contribute to the discussion on how one can determine the value and validity of a hydrological model developed for an ungauged basin. As in many cases no local, or even regional, data are available, alternative methods should be applied. Using a PUB case study in a genuinely ungauged basin in southern Cambodia, we give several examples of how one can use different types of soft data to improve model design, calibrate and validate the model, and assess the realism of the model output. A rainfall-runoff model was coupled to an irrigation reservoir, allowing the use of additional and unconventional data. The model was mainly forced with remote sensing data, and local knowledge was used to constrain the parameters. Model realism assessment was done using data from surveys. This resulted in a successful reconstruction of the reservoir dynamics, and revealed the different hydrological characteristics of the two topographical classes. This paper does not present a generic approach that can be transferred to other ungauged catchments, but it aims to show how clever model design and alternative data acquisition can result in a valuable hydrological model for an ungauged catchment.

New IEEE TGRS paper on influence of water stress on radar backscatter

Check out our open access IEEE TGRSS paper.

Abstract: Microwave backscatter from vegetated surfaces is influenced by vegetation structure and vegetation water content (VWC), which varies with meteorological conditions and moisture in the root zone. Radar backscatter observations are used for many vegetation and soil moisture monitoring applications under the assumption that VWC is constant on short timescales. This research aims to understand how backscatter over agricultural canopies changes in response to diurnal differences in VWC due to water stress. A standard water-cloud model and a two-layer water-cloud model for maize were used to simulate the influence of the observed variations in bulk/leaf/stalk VWC and soil moisture on the various contributions to total backscatter at a range of frequencies, polarizations, and incidence angles. The bulk VWC and leaf VWC were found to change up to 30% and 40%, respectively, on a diurnal basis during water stress and may have a significant effect on radar backscatter. Total backscatter time series are presented to illustrate the simulated diurnal difference in backscatter for different radar frequencies, polarizations, and incidence angles. Results show that backscatter is very sensitive to variations in VWC during water stress, particularly at large incidence angles and higher frequencies. The diurnal variation in total backscatter was dominated by variations in leaf water content, with simulated diurnal differences of up to 4 dB in X- through Ku-bands (8.6-35 GHz) . This study highlights a potential source of error in current vegetation and soil monitoring applications and provides insights into the potential use for radar to detect variations in VWC due to water stress.

Link: IEEE TGRSS paper