A method for soil moisture probes calibration and validation of satellite estimates

MethodsX. 2017 Jul 18;4:243-249. doi: 10.1016/j.mex.2017.07.004. eCollection 2017.


Optimization of field techniques is crucial to ensure high quality soil moisture data. The aim of the work is to present a sampling method for undisturbed soil and soil water content to calibrated soil moisture probes, in a context of the SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) mission MIRAS Level 2 soil moisture product validation in Pampean Region of Argentina. The method avoids soil alteration and is recommended to calibrated probes based on soil type under a freely drying process at ambient temperature. A detailed explanation of field and laboratory procedures to obtain reference soil moisture is shown. The calibration results reflected accurate operation for the Delta-T thetaProbe ML2x probes in most of analyzed cases (RMSE and bias ≤ 0.05 m3/m3). Post-calibration results indicated that the accuracy improves significantly applying the adjustments of the calibration based on soil types (RMSE ≤ 0.022 m3/m3, bias ≤ -0.010 m3/m3). •A sampling method that provides high quality data of soil water content for calibration of probes is described.•Importance of calibration based on soil types.•A calibration process for similar soil types could be suitable in practical terms, depending on the required accuracy level.

Keywords: Land surface processes; Remote sensing; Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS); Soil water content.