Development of a daily multi-layer cropland soil moisture dataset for China using machine learning and application to cropping patterns

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  • 1 Earth and Environmental Engineering Department, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
  • 2 The Agrometeorological Center of Sichuan Province, Provincial Key Laboratory of Water-Saving Agriculture in Hill Areas of Southern China, Chengdu, 610072, China
  • 3 Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 2E4, Canada
  • 4 State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi, 712100, China
  • 5 Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Joint Global Change Research Institute, College Park, Maryland, USA
  • 6 State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 7 Guangdong Province Key Laboratory for Climate Change and Natural Disaster Studies, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China
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Soil moisture (SM) links the water and energy cycles over the land-atmosphere interface and largely determines ecosystem functionality, positioning it as an essential player in the Earth system. Despite its importance, accurate estimation of large-scale SM remains a challenge. Here we leverage the strength of neural network (NN) and fidelity of long-term measurements to develop a daily multi-layer cropland SM dataset for China from 1981-2013, implemented for a range of different cropping patterns. The training and testing of the NN for the five soil layers (0-50cm, 10-cm depth each) yield R2 values of 0.65-0.70 and 0.64-0.69, respectively. Our analysis reveals that precipitation and soil properties are the two dominant factors determining SM, but cropping pattern is also crucial. In addition, our simulations of alternative cropping patterns indicate that winter wheat followed by fallow will largely alleviate the SM depletion in most part of China. On the other hand, cropping patterns of fallow in the winter followed by maize/soybean seems further aggravate SM decline in the Huang-Huai-Hai region and Southwestern China, relative to prevalent practices of double cropping. This may be due to their low soil porosity which results in more soil water drainage, as opposed to the case that winter crop roots help maintain SM. This multi-layer cropland SM dataset with granularity of cropping patterns provides an important alternative and is complementary to modelled and satellite-retrieved products.

Corresponding Author: Dongdong Chen, peter19831203@163.com

Soil moisture (SM) links the water and energy cycles over the land-atmosphere interface and largely determines ecosystem functionality, positioning it as an essential player in the Earth system. Despite its importance, accurate estimation of large-scale SM remains a challenge. Here we leverage the strength of neural network (NN) and fidelity of long-term measurements to develop a daily multi-layer cropland SM dataset for China from 1981-2013, implemented for a range of different cropping patterns. The training and testing of the NN for the five soil layers (0-50cm, 10-cm depth each) yield R2 values of 0.65-0.70 and 0.64-0.69, respectively. Our analysis reveals that precipitation and soil properties are the two dominant factors determining SM, but cropping pattern is also crucial. In addition, our simulations of alternative cropping patterns indicate that winter wheat followed by fallow will largely alleviate the SM depletion in most part of China. On the other hand, cropping patterns of fallow in the winter followed by maize/soybean seems further aggravate SM decline in the Huang-Huai-Hai region and Southwestern China, relative to prevalent practices of double cropping. This may be due to their low soil porosity which results in more soil water drainage, as opposed to the case that winter crop roots help maintain SM. This multi-layer cropland SM dataset with granularity of cropping patterns provides an important alternative and is complementary to modelled and satellite-retrieved products.

Corresponding Author: Dongdong Chen, peter19831203@163.com
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