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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: data description paper 05 Nov 2019

Submitted as: data description paper | 05 Nov 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD).

Gap-Free Global Annual Soil Moisture: 15km Grids for 1991–2016

Mario Guevara1, Michela Taufer2, and Rodrigo Vargas1 Mario Guevara et al.
  • 1Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, USA
  • 2Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA

Abstract. Soil moisture is key for quantifying soil-atmosphere interactions and the ESA-CCI (European Space Agency Climate Change Initiative) provides historical (> 30 years) satellite soil moisture gridded data at the global scale. We evaluate an alternative approach to increase the spatial resolution of the original ESA-CCI soil moisture measurements from 27 km to 15 km grids by coupling machine learning (ML) algorithms with information from digital terrain analysis at the global scale. We modeled mean annual ESA-CCI soil moisture values across 26 years of available data (1991–2016) using a ML based kernel method and multiple terrain parameters (e.g., slope, wetness index) as prediction factors. We used ground information from the International Soil Moisture Network (ISMN, n = 13376) for evaluating soil moisture predictions. We provide gap-free mean annual soil moisture predictions, which increase by nearly 50 % the spatial resolution of ESA-CCI soil moisture product. Our predictions showed a statistical accuracy varying 0.69–0.87 % and 0.04 m3/m3 of cross-validated explained variance and root mean squared error (RMSE). We found no significant differences between the ESA-CCI and our predictions, but we found discrepancy between multiple evaluation metrics (e.g., bias vs efficiency) comparing the ESA-CCI with the ISMN. We found a negative bias (−0.01 to −0.08 m3/m3) between the values of ISMN when comparing with the ESA-CCI and our predictions across the analyzed years. A temporal analysis, using a robust trend detection strategy (i.e., Theil-Sen estimator), suggests a decline of soil moisture at the global scale that is consistent in both gridded datasets and field measurements of soil moisture varying from −0.7[−0.77, −0.62] % in the ESA-CCI product, −0.9[−1.01, −0.8] % in the downscaled predictions, and −1.6 [−1.7, −1.5] % in the ISMN. The soil moisture predictions provided here ( could be useful for quantifying soil moisture spatial and temporal dynamics across areas with low availability of soil moisture information in the original ESA-CCI database.

Mario Guevara et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Mario Guevara et al.
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Gap-Free Global Annual Soil Moisture: 15km Grids for 1991-2016 M. Guevara, M. Taufer, and R. Vargas

Mario Guevara et al.
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