Surface soil moisture covers only a miniscule amount of water compared to the total amount of available water on Earth, however due to its role as a key boundary condition in the interaction between the land and atmosphere, small changes therein can already have significant impacts. These impacts can be direct, like the available amount of water for plants to grow, or indirect, like the development of a heatwave. Think of topics like river run-off, floods, desertification, forest fires, droughts, vegetation health, evapotranspiration and precipitation. Or in other words, soil moisture is one of the primary drivers of the water, energy and carbon cycles. Therefore it is not surprising that soil moisture was officially recognized as an Essential Climate Variable (ECV) by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) in 2010.
Urgent and beneficial to society
To support climate studies related to these topics, which are both urgent and beneficial to society, our data is available in the form of a coarse scale dataset (~25 km) through two scientific programmes; the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) by European Space Agency and the Copernicus Climate Change Services (C3S) by the European Commission. With over 12.000 users, this dataset has already been a key resource for hundreds of climate studies across the globe. Among these are contributions to high profile publications like the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) reports and the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS)’s yearly State of the Climate reports.
ESA CCI Soil Moisture data
The ESA CCI Soil Moisture data records are available at the ESA CCI soil moisture website and provides the following benefits:
- A yearly updated global climate data record of soil moisture spanning over 40 years (since 1978).
- Three separate soil moisture products derived from active, passive and combined (active + passive) sensors.
- Eight public releases to date, each updated with new sensors, improvements in retrieval algorithm, calibration and merging.
The C3S Soil Moisture data records are available at the Copernicus Climate website and provides the following benefits:
- A semi near-real-time soil moisture service with data being available with a ~15 day delay.
- Based on the ESA CCI Soil Moisture datasets, ~1 version behind in algorithm improvements.
The active datasets are generated by EUMETSAT H-SAF (ASCAT-A and -B) and the Microwave Remote Sensing Group at TU Wien (ERS data). All passive datasets within ESA CCI/C3S Soil Moisture are processed using the LPRMv6 algorithms, designed and implemented by VanderSat. The merging of the active and passive datasets is mostly done by the Climate and Environmental Remote Sensing Group at TU Wien
For more information on our scientific research activities, please see the publications to view the scientific publications of our team.