Google Play icon

Scientists Verify Soil Moisture Data Collected by Satellites

Share
Posted August 13, 2013

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) may have their feet on the ground, but they’re also the go-to experts when it comes to interpreting data from space.

ARS hydrologist Tom Jackson and student Parmecia Jones use different methods to test soil moisture. The measurements will be compared to see which more accurately validates data obtained via satellites. Photo by Stephen Ausmus.

ARS hydrologist Tom Jackson and student Parmecia Jones use different methods to test soil moisture. The measurements will be compared to see which more accurately validates data obtained via satellites. Photo by Stephen Ausmus.

In 2002, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists established soil moisture monitoring networks in four long-term experimental watersheds to verify the accuracy of soil moisture data collected by satellites orbiting Earth. Since then, the ARS researchers have been continuously monitoring soil moisture levels in these watersheds every hour. As a result, they had a vast amount of data they could use to validate soil moisture data collected by a new Earth-orbiting satellite launched by the European Space Agency as part of its Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission.

ARS is USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency, and this work supports the USDA priority of responding to global climate change.

The new SMOS satellite used an innovative sensor technology to estimate soil moisture levels to within 4 percent, which is like measuring a teaspoon of water mixed into a handful of dry soil. But the accuracy of the data needed to be verified with actual soil moisture measurements.

An ARS research team led by hydrologist Tom Jackson compared a year’s worth of soil moisture data collected by SMOS with data from the four ARS watersheds, and with data from another satellite system. Jackson works at the ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory in Beltsville, Md.

The scientists determined that the SMOS soil moisture estimates approached a 95 percent rate of accuracy. They also identified conditions that reduced the accuracy of their estimates, such as fluctuations in daily weather conditions, and devised a method for flagging and adjusting these data to improve the accuracy of the resulting soil moisture estimates.

Results from this project were published in 2012 in IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing.

Read more about this research in the August 2013 issue ofAgricultural Research magazine.

Featured news from related categories:

Technology Org App
Google Play icon
85,619 science & technology articles

Most Popular Articles

  1. New treatment may reverse celiac disease (October 22, 2019)
  2. The World's Energy Storage Powerhouse (November 1, 2019)
  3. Universe is a Sphere and Not Flat After All According to a New Research (November 7, 2019)
  4. "Helical Engine" Proposed by NASA Engineer could Reach 99% the Speed of Light. But could it, really? (October 17, 2019)
  5. How to enable NTFS write support on Mac? (August 26, 2019)

Follow us

Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Tumblr   RSS   Newsletter via Email