Articles | Volume 16, issue 5
Research article
16 May 2012
Research article |  | 16 May 2012

A soil moisture and temperature network for SMOS validation in Western Denmark

S. Bircher, N. Skou, K. H. Jensen, J. P. Walker, and L. Rasmussen

Abstract. The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity Mission (SMOS) acquires surface soil moisture data of global coverage every three days. Product validation for a range of climate and environmental conditions across continents is a crucial step. For this purpose, a soil moisture and soil temperature sensor network was established in the Skjern River Catchment, Denmark. The objectives of this article are to describe a method to implement a network suited for SMOS validation, and to present sample data collected by the network to verify the approach. The design phase included (1) selection of a single SMOS pixel (44 × 44 km), which is representative of the land surface conditions of the catchment and with minimal impact from open water (2) arrangement of three network clusters along the precipitation gradient, and (3) distribution of the stations according to respective fractions of classes representing the prevailing environmental conditions. Overall, measured moisture and temperature patterns could be related to the respective land cover and soil conditions. Texture-dependency of the 0–5 cm soil moisture measurements was demonstrated. Regional differences in 0–5 cm soil moisture, temperature and precipitation between the north-east and south-west were found to be small. A first comparison between the 0–5 cm network averages and the SMOS soil moisture (level 2) product is in range with worldwide validation results, showing comparable trends for SMOS retrieved soil moisture (R2 of 0.49) as well as initial soil moisture and temperature from ECMWF used in the retrieval algorithm (R2 of 0.67 and 0.97, respectively). While retrieved/initial SMOS soil moisture indicate significant under-/overestimation of the network data (biases of −0.092/0.057 m3 m−3), the initial temperature is in good agreement (bias of −0.2 °C). Based on these findings, the network performs according to expectations and proves to be well-suited for its purpose. The discrepancies between network and SMOS soil moisture will be subject of subsequent studies.