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Soil Moisture Model Calibration and Validation: An ARS Watershed on the South Fork Iowa River

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  • 1 Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, Maryland
  • | 2 NASA Wallops Space Flight Facility, Wallops, Virginia
  • | 3 National Laboratory for Agriculture and Environment, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Ames, Iowa
  • | 4 IIHR–Hydroscience and Engineering, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
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Abstract

Soil moisture monitoring with in situ technology is a time-consuming and costly endeavor for which a method of increasing the resolution of spatial estimates across in situ networks is necessary. Using a simple hydrologic model, the estimation capacity of an in situ watershed network can be increased beyond the station distribution by using available precipitation, soil, and topographic information. A study site was selected on the Iowa River, characterized by homogeneous soil and topographic features, reducing the variables to precipitation only. Using 10-km precipitation estimates from the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) for 2013, high-resolution estimates of surface soil moisture were generated in coordination with an in situ network, which was deployed as part of the Iowa Flood Studies (IFloodS). A simple, bucket model for soil moisture at each in situ sensor was calibrated using four precipitation products and subsequently validated at both the sensor for which it was calibrated and other proximal sensors, the latter after a bias correction step. Average RMSE values of 0.031 and 0.045 m3 m−3 were obtained for models validated at the sensor for which they were calibrated and at other nearby sensors, respectively.

Corresponding author address: Evan Coopersmith, Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, USDA-ARS, 10300 Baltimore Ave., Bldg. #007, Beltsville, MD 20705. E-mail: evan.coopersmith@ars.usda.gov

This article is included in the IFloodS 2013: A Field Campaign to Support the NASA-JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement Mission Special Collection.

Abstract

Soil moisture monitoring with in situ technology is a time-consuming and costly endeavor for which a method of increasing the resolution of spatial estimates across in situ networks is necessary. Using a simple hydrologic model, the estimation capacity of an in situ watershed network can be increased beyond the station distribution by using available precipitation, soil, and topographic information. A study site was selected on the Iowa River, characterized by homogeneous soil and topographic features, reducing the variables to precipitation only. Using 10-km precipitation estimates from the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) for 2013, high-resolution estimates of surface soil moisture were generated in coordination with an in situ network, which was deployed as part of the Iowa Flood Studies (IFloodS). A simple, bucket model for soil moisture at each in situ sensor was calibrated using four precipitation products and subsequently validated at both the sensor for which it was calibrated and other proximal sensors, the latter after a bias correction step. Average RMSE values of 0.031 and 0.045 m3 m−3 were obtained for models validated at the sensor for which they were calibrated and at other nearby sensors, respectively.

Corresponding author address: Evan Coopersmith, Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, USDA-ARS, 10300 Baltimore Ave., Bldg. #007, Beltsville, MD 20705. E-mail: evan.coopersmith@ars.usda.gov

This article is included in the IFloodS 2013: A Field Campaign to Support the NASA-JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement Mission Special Collection.

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