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a core project of
2018WCRPspon col July2018 01 1

ESA-CliC North Hydrology Final Report


Funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), the main goal of the Support to Science Element (STSE) North Hydrology project was to support international efforts coordinated by the Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) project of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) to exploit the use of Earth Observation (EO) technology, numerical models and in situ data in order to improve predictions from atmospheric and hydrological models in high-latitude regions. These are regions where ice and snow play a significant role in energy and mass exchange with the overlying atmosphere, and also where rivers are prone to the formation of ice jams and subsequent flooding. To attain this goal, a portfolio of EO products was developed based on the use of data from ESA (ERS-1/2 and ENVISAT) and non-ESA satellite missions (NASA Aqua/Terra, RADARSAT, TerraSAR-X) to respond to the scientific requirements of the CliC community and the operational requirements of the weather and climate operational agencies (regional to global scale), and the requirements of the operational user community to better characterize river-ice (and glacier temporary lakes) dynamics at the basin scale. In addition, the project aimed to: 1) reinforce the long-term strategic partnerships of ESA with the WCRP and the CliC community; 2) foster the use of ESA data within the CliC community for northern hydrological processes studies; 3) foster the operational use of the ESA-based developed products; and 4) foster the scientific return of ESA missions in terms of novel scientific results and publications.

Led by the University of Waterloo (Canada), in collaboration with seven partner institutions (ENVEO, the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), INRS - Centre Eau Terre Environnement, the Norwegian Computing Center (NR), the Northern Research Institute Trømso (NORUT), and the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI)), the project generated several EO products and demonstrated their utilization in process-related and modeling studies. Key project achievements include: 1) development and validation of EO-derived lake and river ice, lake surface water/ice temperature (LSWT), and ice flow dynamics products; 2) demonstration of improvements in numerical weather prediction (NWP) with the HIgh Resolution Limited Area Model (HIRLAM) used operationally at FMI through assimilation of EO-derived LSWT; 3) demonstration of the value EO-derived LSWT for assessing LSWT generated from regional climate model (RCM) coupled (RCA4-FLake) simulations at SMHI; and 4) documentation of a significant decrease in fraction of grounded ice in shallow lakes of the North Slope of Alaska from the analysis of a 20-year time series (1992-2011) of ERS-1/2 data.

In addition to EO products development, NWP experiments, RCM assessment and publications (listed below), the project produced a list of recommendations (roadmap) for future developments of EO-based products in light of recent and upcoming ESA Sentinel missions and the needs expressed by the atmospheric/hydrological modeling community, and the WCRP CliC project.


Cheng, B., T. Vihma, L. Rontu, A. Kontu, H. Kheyrollah Pour, C.R. Duguay, and J. Pulliainen, 2014. Evolution of snow and ice temperature, thickness and energy balance in Lake Orajärvi, northern Finland. Tellus Series A: Dynamic Meteorology and Oceanography, 66, 21564,

Eerola, K., L. Rontu, E. Kourzeneva, H. Kheyrollah Pour, and C.R. Duguay, 2014. Impact of partly ice-free Lake Ladoga on temperature and cloudiness in an anticyclonic winter situation - a case study using HIRLAM model. Tellus Series A: Dynamic Meteorology and Oceanography, 66, 23929,

Kheyrollah Pour, H., C.R. Duguay, A. Martynov, and L.C. Brown, 2012. Simulation of surface temperature and ice cover of large northern lakes with 1-D models: A comparison with MODIS satellite data and in situ measurements. Tellus Series A: Dynamic Meteorology and Oceanography, 64, 17614, doi: 10.3402/tellusa.v64i0.17614.

Kheyrollah Pour, H., C.R. Duguay, R. Solberg, and Ø. Rudjord, 2014a. Impact of satellite-derived lake surface state observations on the initial state of HIRLAM – Part I: Evaluation of MODIS and AATSR lake water surface temperature with in situ observations. Tellus Series A: Dynamic Meteorology and Oceanography, 66, 21534,

Kheyrollah Pour, H., L. Rontu, C.R. Duguay, K. Eerola, and E. Kourzeneva, 2014b. Impact of satellite-derived lake surface state observations on the initial state of HIRLAM – Part II: Towards assimilation of space-borne lake water surface temperature observations. Tellus Series A: Dyna

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