Downscaling satellite soil moisture using geomorphometry and machine learning

Autoři: Mario Guevara aff001;  Rodrigo Vargas aff001
Působiště autorů: University of Delaware, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Newark, DE aff001
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(9)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0219639


Annual soil moisture estimates are useful to characterize trends in the climate system, in the capacity of soils to retain water and for predicting land and atmosphere interactions. The main source of soil moisture spatial information across large areas (e.g., continents) is satellite-based microwave remote sensing. However, satellite soil moisture datasets have coarse spatial resolution (e.g., 25–50 km grids); and large areas from regional-to-global scales have spatial information gaps. We provide an alternative approach to predict soil moisture spatial patterns (and associated uncertainty) with higher spatial resolution across areas where no information is otherwise available. This approach relies on geomorphometry derived terrain parameters and machine learning models to improve the statistical accuracy and the spatial resolution (from 27km to 1km grids) of satellite soil moisture information across the conterminous United States on an annual basis (1991–2016). We derived 15 primary and secondary terrain parameters from a digital elevation model. We trained a machine learning algorithm (i.e., kernel weighted nearest neighbors) for each year. Terrain parameters were used as predictors and annual satellite soil moisture estimates were used to train the models. The explained variance for all models-years was >70% (10-fold cross-validation). The 1km soil moisture grids (compared to the original satellite soil moisture estimates) had higher correlations (improving from r2 = 0.1 to r2 = 0.46) and lower bias (improving from 0.062 to 0.057 m3/m3) with field soil moisture observations from the North American Soil Moisture Database (n = 668 locations with available data between 1991–2013; 0-5cm depth). We conclude that the fusion of geomorphometry methods and satellite soil moisture estimates is useful to increase the spatial resolution and accuracy of satellite-derived soil moisture. This approach can be applied to other satellite-derived soil moisture estimates and regions across the world.

Klíčová slova:

Machine learning – principal component analysis – Soil ecology – Topographic maps – Topography – Valleys – Terrain – Remote sensing


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