Soil Moisture

High-Resolution Soil Moisture Data Reveal Complex Multi-Scale Spatial Variability Across the United States

Soil moisture (SM) space and time variability critically influences freshwater resources, agriculture, ecosystem dynamics, climate and land-atmosphere interactions, and it can also trigger hazards such as droughts, floods, landslides, and aggravate wildfires. Here, we present the first continental assessment of how SM varies at the local scales using [SMAP-HydroBlocks]( This study maps the SM spatial variability, characterizes the landscape drivers, and quantifies how this variability persists across larger spatial scales. Results revealed striking SM spatial variability across the United States. However, this SM variability does not persist at coarser spatial scales resulting in extensive information loss. This information loss implicates inaccuracies when predicting non-linear SM-dependent hydrological, ecological, and biogeochemical processes using coarse-scale models and satellite estimates.

SMAP-HydroBlocks, a 30-m satellite-based soil moisture dataset for the conterminous US

We introduce SMAP-HydroBlocks (SMAP-HB), a high-resolution satellite-based surface soil moisture dataset at an unprecedented 30-m resolution (2015–2019) across the conterminous United States. SMAP-HB was produced by using a scalable cluster-based merging scheme that combines high-resolution land surface modeling, radiative transfer modeling, machine learning, SMAP satellite microwave data, and in-situ observations. We evaluated the resulting dataset over 1,192 observational sites. Its largest benefit of SMAP-HB is the high spatial detail and improved representation of the soil moisture spatial variability and spatial accuracy with respect to SMAP products.


The first hyper-resolution satellite-based surface soil moisture dataset at 30-m resolution over the continental United States

Field-scale soil moisture bridges the spatial-scale gap between drought monitoring and agricultural yields

Drought monitoring and yield prediction often rely on coarse-scale hydroclimate data or (infrequent) vegetation indexes that do not always indicate the conditions farmers face in the field. Consequently, decision-making based on these indices can often be disconnected from the farmer reality. Our study focuses on smallholder farming systems in data-sparse developing countries, and it shows how field-scale soil moisture can leverage and improve crop yield prediction and drought impact assessment.


HydroBlocks is a field-scale resolving land surface model for computationally efficient applications over continental extents. Learn more on the model development & applications [here](../../HydroBlocks).

Evaluation of 18 satellite- and model-based soil moisture products using in situ measurements from 826 sensors

We evaluated the largest and most diverse set of surface soil moisture products ever evaluated in a single study. We found pronounced differences in performance among individual products and product groups. Our results provide guidance to choose the most suitable product for a particular application.

Field-scale Crop Yield Prediction

Field-scale satellite observations, physical models, and machine learning combined can enable crop yield prediction at high spatial resolution at data-scarse regions. Learn more about it [here](research/crop_yields_zambia).

A global near-real-time soil moisture index monitor for food security using integrated SMOS and SMAP

Soil Moisture (SM) is a direct measure of agricultural drought. While there are several global SM indices, none of them directly use SM observations in a near-real-time capacity and as an operational tool. This paper presents a near-real-time global …

Combining hyper-resolution land surface modeling with SMAP brightness temperatures to obtain 30-m soil moisture estimates

Satellite missions measuring soil moisture from space continue to improve the availability of soil moisture information. However, the utility of these satellite products is limited by the large footprint of the microwave sensors. This study presents a merging framework that combines a hyper-resolution land surface model (LSM), a radiative transfer model (RTM), and a Bayesian scheme to merge and downscale coarse resolution remotely sensed hydrological variables to a 30-m spatial resolution. The framework is based on [HydroBlocks](, an LSM that solves the field-scale spatial heterogeneity of land surface processes through interacting hydrologic response units (HRUs). Our approach was demonstrated for soil moisture by coupling HydroBlocks with the Tau-Omega RTM used in the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission. The brightness temperature from the HydroBlocks-RTM and SMAP L3 were merged to obtain updated 30-m resolution soil moisture estimates.

Cognitive Biases about Climate Variability in Smallholder Farming Systems in Zambia

Given the varying manifestations of climate change over time and the influence of climate perceptions on adaptation, it is important to understand whether farmer perceptions match patterns of environmental change from observational data. We use a …