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Estimating growing-season root zone soil moisture from vegetation index-based evapotranspiration fraction and soil properties in the Northwest Mountain region, USA

Pradhan, Nawa Raj
Hydrological sciences journal 2019 v.64 no.7 pp. 771-788
climate, evapotranspiration, growing season, physical properties, rhizosphere, satellites, soil types, soil water, soil water content, streams, surface water, vegetation, watersheds, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming
A soil moisture retrieval method is proposed, in the absence of ground-based auxiliary measurements, by deriving the soil moisture content relationship from the satellite vegetation index-based evapotranspiration fraction and soil moisture physical properties of a soil type. A temperature–vegetation dryness index threshold value is also proposed to identify water bodies and underlying saturated areas. Verification of the retrieved growing season soil moisture was performed by comparative analysis of soil moisture obtained by observed conventional in situ point measurements at the 239-km² Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed, Idaho, USA (2006–2009), and at the US Climate Reference Network (USCRN) soil moisture measurement sites in Sundance, Wyoming (2012–2015), and Lewistown, Montana (2014–2015). The proposed method best represented the effective root zone soil moisture condition, at a depth between 50 and 100 cm, with an overall average R² value of 0.72 and average root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.042.