Articles | Volume 8, issue 2
Review article
20 Oct 2016
Review article |  | 20 Oct 2016

The integrated water balance and soil data set of the Rollesbroich hydrological observatory

Wei Qu, Heye R. Bogena, Johan A. Huisman, Marius Schmidt, Ralf Kunkel, Ansgar Weuthen, Henning Schiedung, Bernd Schilling, Jürgen Sorg, and Harry Vereecken

Abstract. The Rollesbroich headwater catchment located in western Germany is a densely instrumented hydrological observatory and part of the TERENO (Terrestrial Environmental Observatories) initiative. The measurements acquired in this observatory present a comprehensive data set that contains key hydrological fluxes in addition to important hydrological states and properties. Meteorological data (i.e., precipitation, air temperature, air humidity, radiation components, and wind speed) are continuously recorded and actual evapotranspiration is measured using the eddy covariance technique. Runoff is measured at the catchment outlet with a gauging station. In addition, spatiotemporal variations in soil water content and temperature are measured at high resolution with a wireless sensor network (SoilNet). Soil physical properties were determined using standard laboratory procedures from samples taken at a large number of locations in the catchment. This comprehensive data set can be used to validate remote sensing retrievals and hydrological models, to improve the understanding of spatial temporal dynamics of soil water content, to optimize data assimilation and inverse techniques for hydrological models, and to develop upscaling and downscaling procedures of soil water content information. The complete data set is freely available online (, doi:10.5880/TERENO.2016.001, doi:10.5880/TERENO.2016.004, doi:10.5880/TERENO.2016.003) and additionally referenced by three persistent identifiers securing the long-term data and metadata availability.

Short summary
The Rollesbroich catchment is a hydrological observatory of the TERENO (Terrestrial Environmental Observatories) initiative. Hydrometeorological data and spatiotemporal variations in soil water content are measured at high temporal resolution and can be used for many purposes, e.g. validation of remote sensing retrievals, improving hydrological understanding, optimizing data assimilation and inverse modelling techniques. The data set is freely available online (