Multiscale soil moisture estimates using static and roving cosmic-ray soil moisture sensors
Soil moisture plays a critical role in land surface processes and as such there has been a recent increase in the number and resolution of satellite soil moisture observations and the development of land surface process models with ever increasing resolution. Despite these developments, validation and calibration of these products has been limited because of a lack of observations on corresponding scales. A recently developed mobile soil moisture monitoring platform, known as the
rover, offers opportunities to overcome this scale issue. This paper describes methods, results and testing of soil moisture estimates produced using rover surveys on a range of scales that are commensurate with model and satellite retrievals. Our investigation involved static cosmic-ray neutron sensors and rover surveys across both broad (36 × 36 km at 9 km resolution) and intensive (10 × 10 km at 1 km resolution) scales in a cropping district in the Mallee region of Victoria, Australia. We describe approaches for converting rover survey neutron counts to soil moisture and discuss the factors controlling soil moisture variability. We use independent gravimetric and modelled soil moisture estimates collected across both space and time to validate rover soil moisture products. Measurements revealed that temporal patterns in soil moisture were preserved through time and regression modelling approaches were utilised to produce time series of property-scale soil moisture which may also have applications in calibration and validation studies or local farm management. Intensive-scale rover surveys produced reliable soil moisture estimates at 1 km resolution while broad-scale surveys produced soil moisture estimates at 9 km resolution. We conclude that the multiscale soil moisture products produced in this study are well suited to future analysis of satellite soil moisture retrievals and finer-scale soil moisture models.