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Optimally merging precipitation to minimize land surface modeling errors

Yılmaz, Mustafa Tuğrul
Houser, Paul
Shrestha, Roshan
Anantharaj, Valentine G.
This paper introduces a new method to improve land surface model skill by merging different available precipitation datasets, given that an accurate land surface parameter ground truth is available. Precipitation datasets are merged with the objective of improving terrestrial water and energy cycle simulation skill, unlike most common methods in which the merging skills are evaluated by comparing the results with gauge data or selected reference data. The optimal merging method developed in this study minimizes the simulated land surface parameter (soil moisture, temperature, etc.) errors using the Noah land surface model with the Nelder–Mead (downhill simplex) method. In addition to improving the simulation skills, this method also impedes the adverse impacts of single-source precipitation data errors. Analysis has indicated that the results from the optimally merged precipitation product have fewer errors in other land surface states and fluxes such as evapotranspiration (ET), discharge R, and skin temperature T than do simulation results obtained by forcing the model using the precipitation products individually. It is also found that, using this method, the true knowledge of soil moisture information minimized land surface modeling errors better than the knowledge of other land surface parameters (ET, R, and T). Results have also shown that, although it does not have the true precipitation information, the method has associated heavier weights with the precipitation product that has intensity, amount, and frequency that are similar to those of the true precipitation.