The Global Soil Wetness Project (GSWP) is an ongoing land surface modeling activity of the International Satellite Land-Surface Climatology Project (ISLSCP), a part of the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment. The pilot phase of GSWP deals with the production of a two-year global dataset of soil moisture, temperature, runoff, and surface fluxes by integrating uncoupled land surface schemes (LSSs) using externally specified surface forcings from observations and standardized soil and vegetation distributions. Approximately one dozen participating LSS groups in five nations have taken the common ISLSCP forcing data to drive their state-of-the-art models over the 1987–88 period to generate global datasets. Many of the LSS groups have performed specific sensitivity studies, which are intended to evaluate the impact of uncertainties in model parameters and forcing fields on simulation of the surface water and energy balances. A validation effort exists to compare the global products to other forms of estimation and measurement, either directly (by comparison to field studies or soil moisture measuring networks) or indirectly (e.g., use of modeled runoff to drive river routing schemes for comparison to streamflow data). The soil wetness data produced are also being tested within general circulation models to evaluate their quality and their impact on seasonal to interannual climate simulations. An Inter-Comparison Center has also been established for evaluating and comparing data from the different LSSs. Comparison among the model results is used to assess the uncertainty in estimates of surface components of the moisture and energy balances at large scales and as a quality check on the model products themselves.

This content is only available as a PDF.


*Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, Calverton, Maryland.

+Winand Starring Centre, Wageningen, the Netherlands.

#Japanese Meteorological Agency, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan.