Summary of H SAF-HEPEX workshop

by Fredrik Wetterhall, David Fairbairn and Patricia de Rosnay, ECMWF.

More than a hundred modellers and satellite data specialists in the field of hydrology came together at ECMWF from 25 to 28 November to debate new ideas and deepen collaborations. The workshop on “satellite-inspired hydrology in an uncertain future” was organized jointly by the EUMETSAT Satellite Application Facility for hydrology and water management (H SAF) and the HEPEX community. The last joint H SAF/HEPEX workshop was held in 2014, so this was a good time to see how the communities have progressed since then.

Participants in the workshop. Photo: ECMWF






Summary of discussions

The workshop presentations identified areas where the two communities do work together, but also highlighted challenges where more can be done to bridge the gap between them. These are summarized as bullet points below:


  • H SAF is encouraged to consider using machine learning in their product developments;
  • H SAF products should provide information on products uncertainties;
  • H SAF should make available daily surface soil moisture products in addition to the current sub-daily products;
  • The number of H SAF products should be reduced by combining products (e.g. ASCAT-A/B/C) where appropriate;
  • H SAF data should be made available in user friendly formats (e.g. regular lat-lon netCDF);
  • H SAF is encouraged to work to reduce the effect of the cloudy pixels on the snow products;
  • H SAF is encouraged to promote the production of long-term data series which are of high interest for flood forecasts;


  • H SAF and HEPEX should foster collaboration with developing countries (e.g through the H SAF visiting scientist programme, and/or by sharing products);
  • Hydrological validation  of H SAF products should be strengthened by implementing more case studies e.g. considering more catchments, different climatological conditions, hydrological models and assimilation techniques;
  • Both the H SAF and HEPEX communities should explore the use of satellite-based precipitation products for flood forecasting;
  • Further collaboration between H SAF and HEPEX (e.g. via the H SAF VS programme, regular workshop as this one) would be beneficial for both projects;
  • Both the H SAF and HEPEX communities should focus on extreme events, for example through event-based modelling;
  • Developing use cases for H SAF satellite data in hydrology would be helpful to strengthen the collaboration;

The above points are suggestions for the two communities to take forward in the coming years, and it will re interesting to revisit them in 5 years time to see if further progress has been made.

For more on the workshop, see the ECMWF summary here.


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