Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1029/2022WR033514
Licence creative commons licence
Title (Primary) Toward large-scale soil moisture monitoring using rail-based cosmic ray neutron sensing
Author Altdorff, D.; Oswald, S.E.; Zacharias, S. ORCID logo ; Zengerle, C.; Dietrich, P. ORCID logo ; Mollenhauer, H.; Attinger, S.; Schrön, M.
Source Titel Water Resources Research
Year 2023
Department CHS; MET
Volume 59
Issue 3
Page From e2022WR033514
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
Keywords continuous soil moisture monitoring; soil moisture products; hydrological observations; automatic geophysical roving; root zone soil water; time-series soil water content mapping
Abstract Cosmic ray neutron sensing (CRNS) has become a promising method for soil water content (SWC) monitoring. Stationary CRNS offers hectare-scale average SWC measurements at fixed locations maintenance-free and continuous in time, while car-borne CRNS roving can reveal spatial SWC patterns at medium scales, but only on certain survey days. The novel concept of a permanent mobile CRNS system on rails promises to combine the advantages of both methods, while its technical implementation, data processing and interpretation raised a new level of complexity. This study introduced a fully automatic CRNS rail-borne system as the first of its kind, installed within the locomotion of a cargo train. Data recorded from Sep 2021 to July 2022 along an ∼ 9 km railway segment were analyzed, as repeatedly used by the train, supported by local SWC measurements (soil samples and dielectric methods), car-borne and stationary CRNS. The results revealed at a daily resolution consistent spatial SWC patterns and temporary variation along the track. The observed variability was mostly related to surface features, seasonal dynamics and different responses of the railway segments to wetting and drying periods, while some variations were related to measurement uncertainties. The achieved medium scale of SWC mapping could support large scale hydrological modeling and detection of environmental risks, such as droughts and wildfires. Hence, rail-borne CRNS has the chance to become a central tool of continuous SWC monitoring for scales at ≤ 10-km resolution, with the additional benefit of providing root-zone soil moisture, potentially even in sub-daily resolution.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Altdorff, D., Oswald, S.E., Zacharias, S., Zengerle, C., Dietrich, P., Mollenhauer, H., Attinger, S., Schrön, M. (2023):
Toward large-scale soil moisture monitoring using rail-based cosmic ray neutron sensing
Water Resour. Res. 59 (3), e2022WR033514 10.1029/2022WR033514