Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.5194/hess-25-4807-2021
Licence creative commons licence
Title (Primary) Spatio-temporal soil moisture retrieval at the catchment scale using a dense network of cosmic-ray neutron sensors
Author Heistermann, M.; Francke, T.; Schrön, M.; Oswald, S.E.
Source Titel Hydrology and Earth System Sciences
Year 2021
Department MET
Volume 25
Issue 9
Page From 4807
Page To 4824
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
Data and Software links
Abstract Cosmic-ray neutron sensing (CRNS) is a powerful technique for retrieving representative estimates of soil water content at a horizontal scale of hectometres (the “field scale”) and depths of tens of centimetres (“the root zone”). This study demonstrates the potential of the CRNS technique to obtain spatio-temporal patterns of soil moisture beyond the integrated volume from isolated CRNS footprints. We use data from an observational campaign carried out between May and July 2019 that featured a dense network of more than 20 neutron detectors with partly overlapping footprints in an area that exhibits pronounced soil moisture gradients within one square kilometre. The present study is the first to combine these observations in order to represent the heterogeneity of soil water content at the sub-footprint scale as well as between the CRNS stations. First, we apply a state-of-the-art procedure to correct the observed neutron count rates for static effects (heterogeneity in space, e.g. soil organic matter) and dynamic effects (heterogeneity in time, e.g. barometric pressure). Based on the homogenized neutron data, we investigate the robustness of a calibration approach that uses a single calibration parameter across all CRNS stations. Finally, we benchmark two different interpolation techniques for obtaining spatio-temporal representations of soil moisture: first, ordinary Kriging with a fixed range; second, spatial interpolation complemented by geophysical inversion (“constrained interpolation”). To that end, we optimize the parameters of a geostatistical interpolation model so that the error in the forward-simulated neutron count rates is minimized, and suggest a heuristic forward operator to make the optimization problem computationally feasible. Comparison with independent measurements from a cluster of soil moisture sensors (SoilNet) shows that the constrained interpolation approach is superior for representing horizontal soil moisture gradients at the hectometre scale. The study demonstrates how a CRNS network can be used to generate coherent, consistent, and continuous soil moisture patterns that could be used to validate hydrological models or remote sensing products.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Heistermann, M., Francke, T., Schrön, M., Oswald, S.E. (2021):
Spatio-temporal soil moisture retrieval at the catchment scale using a dense network of cosmic-ray neutron sensors
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 25 (9), 4807 - 4824 10.5194/hess-25-4807-2021