Evaluation of remotely sensed soil moisture products using crowdsourced measurements

Luca Zappa, Mel Woods (Lead / Corresponding author), Drew Hemment, Angelika Xaver, Wouter Dorigo

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)
    162 Downloads (Pure)


    Global soil moisture products retrieved from various sensors onboard satellites are becoming readily available. However, validation of such products is a crucial step to ensure their reliability. In-situ measurements, which provide the most accurate soil moisture estimates, are often used as reference dataset, but they are limited in number. The GROW Observatory (GROW) was initiated to demonstrate that a 'Citizens' Observatory' (CO) can provide and utilise unprecedented amounts of data. We present GROW as a case study and demonstrate, for the first time, the use of crowdsourced observations to assess the temporal and spatial consistency of various satellite-derived soil moisture products. In particular, we provide evidence of the added value to Earth Observation, thanks to (i) the high number of sensors deployed, covering a wide range of land use, environmental, and climatic conditions, and (ii) the unique spatial density in GROW. Our results confirmed that SMAP and ESA CCI SM can better capture the temporal dynamics compared to the other products investigated. We found high uncertainties due to the spatial mismatch between in-situ and satellite observations, not only for coarse scale but also for high-resolution soil moisture products. This finding highlights the importance of crowdsourced observations, which have the potential to reduce representativeness errors. Finally, a preliminary analysis of the spatial consistency of Sentinel-1 soil moisture showed a poor agreement against GROW data. We conclude presenting the challenges and the steps that will follow this preliminary analysis, as well as design guidelines for COs to meaningfully contribute to Earth Observation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages13
    Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2020
    EventEighth International Conference on Remote Sensing and Geoinformation of the Environment (RSCy2020) - Paphos, Cyprus
    Duration: 16 Mar 202018 Mar 2020


    ConferenceEighth International Conference on Remote Sensing and Geoinformation of the Environment (RSCy2020)


    • Citizens' Observatory
    • Crowdsourcing
    • Remote Sensing
    • Soil Moisture
    • Satellite Validation
    • In-situ
    • Citizen Science
    • Design


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    • Grow Observatory

      Woods, M., 2020, University of Dundee.

      Research output: Other contribution

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