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Analysing the temporal and spatial dynamics of surface soil moisture using SAR data and process based modelling

within the Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 32  

Project Staff:

Prof. Dr. Karl Schneider (Chair, Modelling & Remote Sensing)
PD Dr. Peter Fiener (Coordination, Modelling & Field Measurements) (since 2013 Prof. Univ. Augsburg)
Dr. Wolfgang Korres (Field Measurements & Modelling Soil Hydrology)
Dipl.-Geogr. Sabrina Esch  (Field Measurements & Radar Remote Sensing)  

Project period:

2011- 2014

Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 32 -
Pattern in Soil-Vegetation-Atmosphere Systems:
Monitoring, Modelling, and Data Assimilation

The Transregio 32 works on exchange processes between the soil, vegetation and the adjacent atmospheric boundary layer. The overall research goal is to yield improved numerical models for the prediction of water-, CO2- and energy-transfer by accounting for the patterns occurring at various scales. See also a short summary of the full project and the summaries of the sub-projects below. 

Project section:

C3: Impacts of land use patterns upon patterns of soil moisture, water and carbon fluxes

Crop type, vegetation growth dynamics and agricultural management have a strong impact upon soil moisture patterns. Due to the importance of agricultural management upon vegetation cover and plant growths, changes in agricultural management, land use or land use structure will result in changes in soil moisture dynamics and its spatial patterns. At the same time, soil moisture availability determines to a large degree plant growth and thus carbon and water fluxes. This results in feedback mechanisms, which lead to spatial complex patterns of soil moisture, plant growth and water fluxes.

In the first project phase, our research has focussed on establishing an a) integrated ground measuring system, b) developing and testing remote sensing algorithms and c) analysing soil moisture patterns based upon model results, remote sensing and field measurements. Building upon the achievements of the first project phase, we will focus in the next phase on analyzing the impacts and feedbacks of plant growth dynamics, agricultural land use and land management upon spatial and temporal soil moisture patterns.

The overarching goals of the project for the next project phase are therefore a) to improve our understanding of temporal and spatial patterns of soil moisture at different spatial scales, b) to determine the driving parameters and processes explaining these patterns and their temporal dynamics focussing particularly upon vegetation-soil interactions, c) to evaluate the effects of soil moisture heterogeneity upon water and carbon fluxes, and d) to utilize the knowledge on soil moisture patterns in the Common Land Model (ParFlow-CLM). The following methodological approach is chosen to achieve these goals:

a)  Remote Sensing analyses: “historic” SAR satellite data (ERS-1/2 SAR, Envisat ASAR) and optical data from 1991 onwards will be used to built a comprehensive data base on surface soil moisture and vegetation parameters in order to analyse spatial soil moisture patterns and to investigate the relationship of spatial patterns of surface soil moisture, land use and vegetation properties.

b)  Model analyses: adaptation and further development of a coupled vegetation-hydrology model to analyse the relationship of surface and root zone soil moisture, assimilation of remote sensing data into models to better address observed spatial patterns, analysis of cause and effect relationships controlling soil moisture patterns and investigation of scaling properties from the field scale to the regional scale. 

Further information and publications can be found on the TR-32 web site TR32
Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)