Evaluation of the ESA CCI soil moisture product using ground-based observations

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In this study we evaluate the skill of a new, merged soil moisture product (ECV_SM) that has been developed in the framework of the European Space Agency's Water Cycle Multi-mission Observation Strategy and Climate Change Initiative projects. The product combines in a synergistic way the soil moisture retrievals from four passive (SMMR, SSM/I, TMI, and AMSR-E) and two active (ERS AMI and ASCAT) coarse resolution microwave sensors into a global data set spanning the period 1979-2010. The evaluation uses ground-based soil moisture observations of 596 sites from 28 historical and active monitoring networks worldwide. Besides providing conventional measures of agreement, we use the triple collocation technique to assess random errors in the data set. The average Spearman correlation coefficient between ECV_SM and all in-situ observations is 0.46 for the absolute values and 0.36 for the soil moisture anomalies, but differences between networks and time periods are very large. Unbiased root-mean-square differences and triple collocation errors show less variation between networks, with average values around 0.05 and 0.04m 3 m -3, respectively. The ECV_SM quality shows an upward trend over time, but a consistent decrease of all performance metrics is observed for the period 2007-2010. Comparing the skill of the merged product with the skill of the individual input products shows that the merged product has a similar or better performance than the individual input products, except with regard to the ASCAT product, compared to which the performance of ECV_SM is inferior. The cause of the latter is most likely a combination of the mismatch in sampling time between the satellite observations and in-situ measurements, and the resampling and scaling strategy used to integrate the ASCAT product into ECV_SM on the other. The results of this study will be used to further improve the scaling and merging algorithms for future product updates.




Dorigo, W. A., Gruber, A., De Jeu, R. A. M., Wagner, W., Stacke, T., Loew, A., … Kidd, R. (2015). Evaluation of the ESA CCI soil moisture product using ground-based observations. Remote Sensing of Environment, 162, 380–395. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2014.07.023

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