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The Use of H-SAF Soil Moisture Products for Operational Hydrology: Flood Modelling over Italy

Research Institute for Geo-Hydrological Protection, National Research Council CNR, Via di Madonna Alta 126, 06128 Perugia, Italy
International Centre on Environmental Monitoring (CIMA) Research Foundation, Via A. Magliotto, 2-17100 Savona, Italy
European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), Shinfield Park, RG2 9AX Reading, UK
Italian Civil Protection Department, Via Vitorchiano 2, 00189 Rome, Italy
Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation, Vienna University of Technology, 1040 Vienna, Austria
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Okke Batelaan
Hydrology 2015, 2(1), 2-22;
Received: 2 September 2014 / Accepted: 26 December 2014 / Published: 13 January 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hydrological Modeling: Beyond Runoff Calibration)
PDF [2128 KB, uploaded 13 January 2015]


The ever-increasing availability of new remote sensing and land surface model datasets opens new opportunities for hydrologists to improve flood forecasting systems. The current study investigates the performance of two operational soil moisture (SM) products provided by the “EUMETSATSatellite Application Facility in Support of Operational Hydrology and Water Management” (H-SAF, within a recently-developed hydrological model called the “simplified continuous rainfall-runoff model” (SCRRM) and the possibility of using such a model at an operational level. The model uses SM datasets derived from external sources (i.e., remote sensing and land surface models) as input for calculating the initial wetness conditions of the catchment prior to the flood event. Hydro-meteorological data from 35 Italian catchments ranging from 800 to 7400 km2 were used for the analysis for a total of 593 flood events. The results show that H-SAF operational products used within SCRRM satisfactorily reproduce the selected flood events, providing a median Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency index equal to 0.64 (SM-OBS-1) and 0.60 (SM-DAS-2), respectively. Given the results obtained along with the parsimony, the simplicity and independence of the model from continuously-recorded rainfall and evapotranspiration data, the study suggests that: (i) SM-OBS-1 and SM-DAS-2 contain useful information for flood modelling, which can be exploited in flood forecasting; and (ii) SCRRM is expected to be beneficial as a component of real-time flood forecasting systems in regions characterized by low data availability, where a continuous modelling approach can be problematic. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil moisture; floods; remote sensing; hydrological modelling soil moisture; floods; remote sensing; hydrological modelling

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Massari, C.; Brocca, L.; Ciabatta, L.; Moramarco, T.; Gabellani, S.; Albergel, C.; De Rosnay, P.; Puca, S.; Wagner, W. The Use of H-SAF Soil Moisture Products for Operational Hydrology: Flood Modelling over Italy. Hydrology 2015, 2, 2-22.

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