Articles | Volume 26, issue 19
Research article
 | Highlight paper
05 Oct 2022
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 05 Oct 2022

Predicting soil moisture conditions across a heterogeneous boreal catchment using terrain indices

Johannes Larson, William Lidberg, Anneli M. Ågren, and Hjalmar Laudon

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Cited articles

Abowarda, A. S., Bai, L., Zhang, C., Long, D., Li, X., Huang, Q., and Sun, Z.: Generating surface soil moisture at 30 m spatial resolution using both data fusion and machine learning toward better water resources management at the field scale, Remote Sens. Environ., 255, 112301,, 2021. 
Ågren, A. M., Lidberg, W., Strömgren, M., Ogilvie, J., and Arp, P. A.: Evaluating digital terrain indices for soil wetness mapping – a Swedish case study, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 3623–3634,, 2014. 
Ågren, A. M., Lidberg, W., and Ring, E.: Mapping Temporal Dynamics in a Forest Stream Network – Implications for Riparian Forest Management, Forests, 6, 2982–3001,, 2015. 
Ågren, A. M., Larson, J., Paul, S. S., Laudon, H., and Lidberg, W.: Use of multiple LIDAR-derived digital terrain indices and machine learning for high-resolution national-scale soil moisture mapping of the Swedish forest landscape, Geoderma, 404, 115280,, 2021. 
Bachmair, S. and Weiler, M.: New Dimensions of Hillslope Hydrology, in: Forest Hydrology and Biogeochemistry: Synthesis of Past Research and Future Directions, edited by: Levia, D. F., Carlyle-Moses, D., and Tanaka, T., Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht, 455–481,, 2011. 
Executive editor
I recommend this paper for highlight. In the words of the authors: "No previous study has been able to provide such detailed data [of soil moisture] at catchment scale, amount of terrain indices in combination with an extensive field survey which clearly demonstrates the importance of selection of terrain index, DEM resolution and index-specific threshold.
Short summary
Terrain indices constitute a good candidate for modelling the spatial variation of soil moisture conditions in many landscapes. In this study, we evaluate nine terrain indices on varying DEM resolution and user-defined thresholds with validation using an extensive field soil moisture class inventory. We demonstrate the importance of field validation for selecting the appropriate DEM resolution and user-defined thresholds and that failing to do so can result in ambiguous and incorrect results.