Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 175, Issue 11, pp 3909–3937 | Cite as

Analyzing the Mediterranean Water Cycle Via Satellite Data Integration

  • Victor PelletEmail author
  • Filipe Aires
  • Annarita Mariotti
  • Diego Fernández-Prieto


The water cycle components are being retrieved by an increasing number of satellite missions. However, the monitoring of the water cycle by satellite Earth Observations is still a challenge. Data sets suffer from numerous systematic and random errors and they are often not coherent with each other. We focus here on the Mediterranean basin, one of the regions most sensitive to climate change. A satellite-based analysis of the water cycle is undertaken using a collection of available satellite data sets. Our satellite data set combination uses a simple bias correction and weighted average, and provides a better water budget closure results than any raw satellite data set. Our almost purely satellite data set allows to better describe the full water cycle, not only over the continents, but also in the atmosphere and over the ocean. The limitation/possibilities of this satellite multi-component data set are described: (1) although improved, the water cycle is still not closed by satellite data and the satellite community should focus on this issue, (2) our combined data set shows good coherency with the ERA-I reanalysis which is the reference so far, both in terms of seasonal climatology and long-term trends. This means that, even if the water budget is not yet closed by satellite data, our monitoring of the water cycle using satellite observations is improving, even over complex regions such as the Mediterranean basin.


Mediterranean sea water cycle satellite observation merging techniques 



We would like to thank the ESA (European Space Agency) and the STSE for funding the “Water Cycle Observation Multi-mission Strategy For Mediterranean region” project ( We also thank colleagues for providing the data sets used in this study: Wouter Dorigo, from Wien University, for the EO data sets; Jan Polcher from LMD for the ORCHIDEE outputs; Ludwig Wolgang from CEFREM for the coastal discharge database; Gabriel Jorda from EMEDEA for the Gibraltar Netflow product. We are grateful for the E-OBS data set from the EU-FP6 project ENSEMBLES ( and the data providers in the ECA&D project ( We would like to thank the WACMOS-Med partners for the interesting related discussions and Phillipe Drobinsky for his support to WACMOS-Med and his role in the HYMEX project. We also thank the anonymous reviewers who help improving the manuscript. We finally would like to particularly thank Simon Munier for his help along this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LERMA, Observatoire de ParisParisFrance
  2. 2.EstellusParisFrance
  3. 3.NOAA/OAR, Climate Program OfficeSilver SpringUSA
  4. 4.European Space Agency (ESA-ESRIN)RomeItaly

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