A spatial Coherent Global Soil Moisture Product with Improved Temporal Resolution

R.A.M. de Jeu, T.R.H. Holmes, R.M. Parinussa, M. Owe

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Global soil moisture products that are completely independent of any type of ancillary data and solely rely on satellite observations are presented. Additionally, we further develop an existing downscaling technique that enhances the spatial resolution of such products to approximately 11. km. These products are based on internal modules of the Land Parameter Retrieval Model (LPRM), an algorithm that uses the radiative transfer equation to link soil moisture, vegetation optical depth and land surface temperature to observed brightness temperatures.The soil moisture product that is independent of any type of ancillary data uses the internally calculated dielectric constant as a soil moisture proxy. This data product is not influenced by errors associated with coarse-scale global soil property maps or by any other type of forcing (e.g. re-analysis) data and is therefore solely based on satellite microwave observations. The second step builds upon recent developments to increase the spatial resolution of the LPRM retrievals using a smoothing filter downscaling method. With this method we can attain a spatial resolution that can be more useful at the scale of local and regional hydrological studies as well. The steps presented in this paper were applied to observations from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-Earth Observing System (AMSR-E). The newly derived data sets were validated using ground-based observations from the International Soil Moisture Network (ISMN).The internally calculated dielectric constant product results in significantly more days with valid retrievals than the original soil moisture data products, in particular over arid regions. The dielectric constant product resulted in similar correlations with in situ data as the original soil moisture data product. Together, these findings demonstrate the usefulness of this new dielectric constant product for the hydrological modeling community and climate studies. A case study on the Australian Fitzroy catchment demonstrated that the downscaled data product has a more detailed spatial description of soil moisture, especially during wet and dry conditions with more pronounced dry and wet regions within the catchment. The increased resolution data products could therefore improve runoff predictions and this study demonstrated the potential added value of a transitioning from a spatial resolution of 56. km toward a higher resolution of 11. km. The hydrological implications of these newly developed data records are not only linked to AMSR-E satellite data, but also to the next generation Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) mission where a 9. km spatial resolution is the target resolution for satellite soil moisture products. The new data products will not replace the current LPRM products, but will be added to the existing array of data products and will become publicly available through our data portals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-296
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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