Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2018.07.053
Title (Primary) Uncertainty, sensitivity and improvements in soil moisture estimation with cosmic-ray neutron sensing
Author Baroni, G.; Scheiffele, L.M.; Schrön, M.; Ingwersen, J.; Oswald, S.E.
Source Titel Journal of Hydrology
Year 2018
Department CHS; MET
Volume 564
Page From 873
Page To 887
Language englisch
Keywords Soil moisture; Cosmic-ray neutrons; Uncertainty analysis; Sensitivity analysis
Abstract Cosmic-ray neutron sensing (CRNS) is a promising proximal soil sensing technique to estimate soil moisture at intermediate scale and high temporal resolution. However, the signal shows complex and non-unique response to all hydrogen pools near the land surface, providing some challenges for soil moisture estimation in practical applications. Aims of the study were 1) to assess the uncertainty of CRNS as a stand-alone approach to estimate volumetric soil moisture in cropped field 2) to identify the causes of this uncertainty 3) and possible improvements. Two experimental sites in Germany were equipped with a CRNS probe and point-scale soil moisture network. Additional monitoring activities were conducted during the crop growing season to characterize the soil-plant systems. This data is used to identify and quantify the different sources of uncertainty (factors). An uncertainty analysis, based on Monte Carlo approach, is applied to propagate these uncertainties to CRNS soil moisture estimations. In addition, a sensitivity analysis based on the Sobol’ method is performed to identify the most important factors explaining this uncertainty. Results show that CRNS soil moisture compares well to the soil moisture network when these point-scale values are weighted to account for the spatial sensitivity of the signal and other sources of hydrogen (lattice water and organic carbon) are added to the water content. However, the performance decreases when CRNS is considered as a stand-alone method to retrieve the actual (non-weighted) volumetric soil moisture. The support volume (penetration depth and radius) shows also a considerable uncertainty, especially in relatively dry soil moisture conditions. Four of the seven factors analyzed (the vertical soil moisture profile, bulk density, incoming neutron correction and the calibrated parameter N0) were found to play an important role. Among the possible improvements identified, a simple correction factor based on vertical point-scale soil moisture profiles shows to be a promising approach to account for the sensitivity of the CRNS signal to the upper soil layers.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Baroni, G., Scheiffele, L.M., Schrön, M., Ingwersen, J., Oswald, S.E. (2018):
Uncertainty, sensitivity and improvements in soil moisture estimation with cosmic-ray neutron sensing
J. Hydrol. 564 , 873 - 887 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2018.07.053