Operational Soil Moisture Estimation at Local and Regional Scales


This is a mutlidisciplinary research project that involves 2 universities (Wyoming and Arizona) and 3 Federal agencies (USDA-ARS, NASA-Goddard, and the USACE).  We are developing an integrated soil moisture modeling system in a GIS framework.  Two models, NOAH, and KINEROS are used in coordination with synthetic aperture radar data to simulate the horizontal and vertical redistribution of water through time.  Wyoming scientists are tasked with developing a high-tech soil moisture modeling system and linking the two GIS-driven models for real-time operational capacity.

From the Proposal

The goal of this applied research effort is to provide the US Army with a prototype operational soil moisture modeling system based on remote sensing technology, process-based models, and geographic information (GIS) systems.  The Future Combat System requirements for soil moisture include spatial resolution of 10-100 m, coverage area of 22,500 square kilometers, product delivery deadlines of 96 hours, soil moisture depths of 15-30 cm, and quantization of 3-4 soil moisture levels (e.g., dry, moist, extremely wet).  The proposed approach is an integrated remote sensing and modeling system that provides soil moisture data on a daily timestep and at a variety of depths at local and regional scales.  The remote sensing/modeling approach will be integrated into a GIS-based assessment tool for operational use by Army terrain analysts.  A rigorous validation effort is planned at four watersheds in different U.S. climatic regimes  to ensure product accuracy in international application.  As an applied research project, technology transfer is an integral component of this work, including development of a prototype operational soil moisture estimation system, extensive documentation, conduct of workshops and training, and publication of results in peer-reviewed literature.  The science tasks and technology transfer milestones are projected for a 4.5-year project, with initial prototype testbed evaluation in March 2005 and culminating in a prototype soil moisture prediction system delivered to the Army in March 2007.

The project described is based on a collaborative working relation with project scientists at four locations � US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, US Engineer Research and Development Center, Topographic Engineering Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Goddard Space Flight Center, and University of Wyoming.  The funding is largely for the salaries of postdoctoral scientists and students, made possible by low overhead charges, in-kind contributions, and the contributed salaries of permanent ARS and NASA employees.  

Results of the project will directly support the soil moisture data requirements of the Department of Army�s Future Combat System.