Publication Abstract

Quasi-global Machine Learning-based Soil Moisture Estimates at High Spatio-temporal Scales Using CYGNSS and SMAP Observations

Lei, F., Senyurek, V., Kurum, M., Gurbuz, A., Boyd, D., Moorhead, R. J., & Crow, W. T. (2022). Quasi-global Machine Learning-based Soil Moisture Estimates at High Spatio-temporal Scales Using CYGNSS and SMAP Observations. Remote Sensing of Environment. Elsevier. 276, 113041. DOI:10.1016/j.rse.2022.113041.


Global soil moisture mapping at high spatial and temporal resolution is important for various meteorological, hydrological, and agricultural applications. Recent research shows that the land surface reflection in the forward direction of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals at L-band can convey high-resolution land surface information, including surface soil moisture. However, these signals are often affected by complex land surface characteristics and the bistatic nature of the GNSS-Reflectometry (GNSS-R) technique, resulting in a nonlinear relationship between the signals and surface soil moisture. In this work, a machine learning (ML) approach is used to map quasi-global soil moisture using bistatic reflectance observations acquired from the recently launched Cyclone GNSS (CYGNSS) mission. Specifically, several land surface parameters are obtained from remote sensing products and integrated with Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) enhanced soil moisture retrievals to facilitate daily quasi-global CYGNSS soil moisture mapping at 9 km. Based on cross-validation against SMAP data, the ML algorithm is shown to be suitable for retrieving soil moisture from CYGNSS. Median values of unbiased root-mean-square-difference for the quasi-global coverage or regions with vegetation water content less than 5 kg/m2 are 0.0395 cm3/cm3 and 0.0320 cm3/cm3, respectively. Likewise, via independent evaluation against more than 100 in-situ sites, the algorithm is shown to have an unbiased root-mean-square-error of 0.0543 cm3/cm3. CYGNSS-based retrievals contain similar spatial variability as SMAP across different seasons. Moreover, through a robust triple collocation technique, the accuracy of CYGNSS soil moisture is relatively high over moderately vegetated regions with correlations ranging from 0.4 to 0.8. Based on these validation results, we argue that derived CYGNSS soil moisture estimates can supplement current global soil moisture databases and provide more frequent retrievals at 9 km.