Improved rainfall-runoff estimates using remotely sensed soil moisture


Remotely sensed soil moisture data measured during the Southern Great Plains 1997 (SGP97) experiment in Oklahoma were used to characterize antecedent soil moisture conditions for the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) curve number method. The precipitation‐adjusted curve number and the soil moisture were strongly related (r2= 0.70). Remotely sensed soil moisture fields were used to adjust the curve numbers and the runoff estimates for five watersheds, in the Little Washita watershed; the results ranged from 2.8 km2 to 601.6 km2. The soil moisture data were applied at two spatial scales, a finer one (800 m) measuring spatial resolution and a coarser one (28 km). The root mean square error (RMSE) and the mean absolute error (MAE) of the runoff estimated by the standard SCS method was reduced by nearly 50 percent when the 800 m soil moisture data were used to adjust the curve number. The coarser scale soil moisture data also significantly reduced the error in the runoff predictions with 41 percent and 28 percent reductions in MAE and RMSE, respectively. The results suggest that remote sensing of soil moisture, when combined with the SCS method, can improve rainfall runoff predictions at a range of spatial scales.


Earth Systems Research Center

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Journal of American Water Resources Association



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