Measuring soil moisture content non-invasively at intermediate spatial scale using cosmic-ray neutrons

Marek Zreda, Darin Desilets, T. P.A. Ferré, Russell L. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

231 Scopus citations

Abstract

Soil moisture content on a horizontal scale of hectometers and at depths of decimeters can be inferred from measurements of low-energy cosmic-ray neutrons that are generated within soil, moderated mainly by hydrogen atoms, and diffused back to the atmosphere. These neutrons are sensitive to water content changes, but largely insensitive to variations in soil chemistry, and their intensity above the surface is inversely correlated with hydrogen content of the soil. The measurement with a portable neutron detector placed a few meters above the ground takes minutes to hours, permitting high-resolution, long-term monitoring of undisturbed soil moisture conditions. The large footprint makes the method suitable for weather and short-term climate forecast initialization and for calibration of satellite sensors, and the measurement depth makes the probe ideal for studies of plant/soil interaction and atmosphere/soil exchange.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL21402
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume35
Issue number21
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 16 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring soil moisture content non-invasively at intermediate spatial scale using cosmic-ray neutrons'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this