The goal of the Global Land Data Assimilation System (GLDAS) is to ingest satellite- and ground-based observational data products, using advanced land surface modeling and data assimilation techniques, in order to generate optimal fields of land surface states and fluxes (Rodell et al., 2004a). The software, which has been streamlined and parallelized by the Land Information System (LIS) sister project, drives multiple, offline (not coupled to the atmosphere) land surface models, integrates a huge quantity of observation based data, executes globally at high resolutions (2.5-degrees to 1 km), and is capable of producing results in near-real time.
A vegetation-based tiling approach is used to simulate sub-grid scale variability, with a 1-km global vegetation dataset as its basis. Soil and elevation parameters are based on high resolution global datasets. Observation-based precipitation and downward radiation products and the best available analyses from atmospheric data assimilation systems are employed to force the models. Intercomparison and validation of these products is being performed with the aim of identifying an optimal forcing scheme. Data assimilation techniques for incorporating satellite based hydrological products, including snow cover and water equivalent, soil moisture, surface temperature, and leaf area index, are now being implemented as part of a follow-on project funded by the NASA Energy and Water Cycle Study (NEWS) Initiative.
The high-quality, global land surface fields provided by GLDAS support several current and proposed weather and climate prediction, water resources applications, and water cycle investigations. The project has resulted in a massive archive of modeled and observed, global, surface meteorological data, parameter maps, and output which includes 1-degree and 0.25-degree resolution 1948-present simulations of the Noah, CLM, VIC, Mosaic, and Catchment land surface models.