COSMOS: The cosmic-ray soil moisture observing system

M. Zreda, W. J. Shuttleworth, X. Zeng, C. Zweck, D. Desilets, T. Franz, R. Rosolem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

210 Scopus citations

Abstract

The newly-developed cosmic-ray method for measuring area-average soil moisture at the hectometer horizontal scale is being implemented in the COsmic-ray Soil Moisture Observing System (or the COSMOS). The stationary cosmic-ray soil moisture probe measures the neutrons that are generated by cosmic rays within air and soil and other materials, moderated by mainly hydrogen atoms located primarily in soil water, and emitted to the atmosphere where they mix instantaneously at a scale of hundreds of meters and whose density is inversely correlated with soil moisture. The COSMOS has already deployed more than 50 of the eventual 500 cosmic-ray probes, distributed mainly in the USA, each generating a time series of average soil moisture over its horizontal footprint, with similar networks coming into existence around the world. This paper is written to serve a community need to better understand this novel method and the COSMOS project. We describe the cosmic-ray soil moisture measurement method, the instrument and its calibration, the design, data processing and dissemination used in the COSMOS project, and give example time series of soil moisture obtained from COSMOS probes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4079-4099
Number of pages21
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences
Volume16
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 12 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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