An ensemble Kalman filter dual assimilation of thermal infrared and microwave satellite observations of soil moisture into the Noah land surface model


Corresponding author: C. R. Hain, Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA. (


[1] Studies that have assimilated remotely sensed soil moisture (SM) into land surface models (LSMs) have generally focused on retrievals from microwave (MW) sensors. However, retrievals from thermal infrared (TIR) sensors have also been shown to add unique information, especially where MW sensors are not able to provide accurate retrievals (due to, e.g., dense vegetation). In this study, we examine the assimilation of a TIR product based on surface evaporative flux estimates from the Atmosphere Land Exchange Inverse (ALEXI) model and the MW-based VU Amsterdam NASA surface SM product generated with the Land Parameter Retrieval Model (LPRM). A set of data assimilation experiments using an ensemble Kalman filter are performed over the contiguous United States to assess the impact of assimilating ALEXI and LPRM SM retrievals in isolation and together in a dual-assimilation case. The relative skill of each assimilation case is assessed through a data denial approach where a LSM is forced with an inferior precipitation data set. The ability of each assimilation case to correct for precipitation errors is quantified by comparing with a simulation forced with a higher-quality precipitation data set. All three assimilation cases (ALEXI, LPRM, and Dual assimilation) show relative improvements versus the open loop (i.e., reduced RMSD) for surface and root zone SM. In the surface zone, the dual assimilation case provides the largest improvements, followed by the LPRM case. However, the ALEXI case performs best in the root zone. Results from the data denial experiment are supported by comparisons between assimilation results and ground-based SM observations from the Soil Climate Analysis Network.