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Susan Frankenstein, Maria Stevens, and Constance Scott

Abstract

This paper uses simulated SMAP level-3 (L3) soil moisture data to calculate soil strength directly and compares the results against the current Noah Land Information System–based climatology approach. Based on the availability of data, three sites were chosen for the study: Cheorwon, South Korea; Laboue, Lebanon; and Asham, Nigeria. The simulated SMAP satellite data are representative of May conditions. For all three regions, this is best represented by the “average” soil moisture used in the current climatology approach. The cumulative distribution frequency of the two soil moisture sources indicates good agreement at Asham, Nigeria; mixed agreement at Cheorwon, South Korea; and no agreement at Laboue, Lebanon. Soil strengths and resulting vehicle speeds for a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) M1097 were calculated based on the Harmonized World Soil Database soil types used by the two soil moisture sources, as well as with a finer-resolution National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency product. Better agreement was found in soil strengths using the finer-resolution soil product. Finally, fairly large differences in soil moisture become muted in the speed calculations even when all factors except soil strength, slope, and vehicle performance are neglected. It is expected that the 0.04 volumetric uncertainty in the final SMAP L3 soil moisture product will have the greatest effect at low vehicle speeds. Field measurements of soil moisture and strength as well as soil type are needed to verify the results.

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