The overall technical goal of the research topic Hydrosphere is to enhance the understanding of hydrological processes by optimally exploiting current (e.g. SMOS, TerrarSAR-X) and planned (e.g. SMAP, Tandem-L) satellite missions.


The Hydrosphere team is focusing on three main goals within this research topic:

  • Development and improvement of remote sensing derived information products (e.g. derivation of soil moisture from active and passive microwave sensors)
  • Validation of remote sensing derived information products (e.g. establishing algorithms for validation and building up ground-measurement infrastructures)
  • Integration of information products using data assimilation methods and physically based models that will allow a quantitative understanding of dynamic processes in the Hydrosphere.

Scientific questions that will be addressed in this research topic include:

  • Does the assimilation of soil moisture and freeze/thaw states help to minimize parameter uncertainty of hydrological models?
  • To what extent does the assimilation of subgrid-scale (e.g. 50-500 m) variability of state variables contribute to the derivation of effective parameters at larger scales (e.g. 1-5 km) in order to characterise hydrological processes?
  • Does the assimilation of high-resolution synchronised observations of soil moisture and snow water equivalent help to reduce the predictive uncertainty of hydrologic models?
  • Is Tandem-L with the high spatial resolution of the soil moisture product able to improve the regionalisation of land surface models?
  • Can the global operational GNSS station network contribute to a global soil moisture monitoring and validation system in conjunction with remote sensing products?
  • Can the improved land surface model enhance our understanding about soil-vegetation – atmosphere water fluxes and coupled plant water/carbon      dynamics?

Hydrosphere Work Packages