Spatio-temporal validation of long-term 3D hydrological simulations of a forested catchment using empirical orthogonal functions and wavelet coherence analysis

Zhufeng Fang, Heye Bogena, Stefan Kollet, Julian Koch, Harry Vereecken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Soil moisture plays a key role in the water and energy balance in soil, vegetation and atmosphere systems. According to Wood et al. (2011) there is a grand need to increase global-scale hyper-resolution water-energy-biogeochemistry land surface modelling capabilities. These modelling capabilities should also recognize epistemic uncertainties, as well as the nonlinearity and hysteresis in its dynamics. Unfortunately, it is not clear how to parameterize hydrological processes as a function of scale, and how to test deterministic models with regard to epistemic uncertainties. In this study, high resolution long-term simulations were conducted in the highly instrumented TERENO hydrological observatory of the Wüstebach catchment. Soil hydraulic parameters were derived using inverse modelling with the Hydrus-1D model using the global optimization scheme SCE-UA and soil moisture data from a wireless soil moisture sensor network. The estimated parameters were then used for 3D simulations of water transport using the integrated parallel simulation platform ParFlow-CLM. The simulated soil moisture dynamics, as well as evapotranspiration (ET) and runoff, were compared with long-term field observations to illustrate how well the model was able to reproduce the water budget dynamics. We investigated different anisotropies of hydraulic conductivity to analyze how fast lateral flow processes above the underlying bedrock affect the simulation results. For a detail investigation of the model results we applied the empirical orthogonal function (EOF) and wavelet coherence methods. The EOF analysis of temporal-spatial patterns of simulated and observed soil moisture revealed that introduction of heterogeneity in the soil porosity effectively improves estimates of soil moisture patterns. Our wavelet coherence analysis indicates that wet and dry seasons have significant effect on temporal correlation between observed and simulated soil moisture and ET. Our study demonstrates the usefulness of the EOF and wavelet coherence methods for a more in-depth validation of spatially highly resolved hydrological 3D models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1754-1767
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue numberPart 3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D hydrological simulation
  • EOF analysis
  • Soil moisture
  • Wavelet coherence analysis

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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