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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Ecological and Agricultural Productivity Forecasting Using Root-Zone Soil Moisture Products Derived from the Nasa Smap Mission

Location: Water Management and Conservation Research

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Our central goal here will be to prepare for the application of measurements obtained from the NASA SMAP mission to a specific ecological forecasting activity – yield and productivity prediction for agricultural and rangeland ecosystems. This preparation will be based on conducting a series of synthetic data assimilation experiments designed to clarify whether SMAP surface soil moisture retrievals can be reliably extrapolated to root-zone depths with sufficient accuracy to add significant skill to end-of-season yield and productivity forecasts.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Research will be based on the design and execution of a series of complete end-to-end observing system simulation experiments (OSSE’s) to isolate the added utility of SMAP soil moisture products for agricultural and rangeland forecasting activities. All OSSE experiments will contain three separate components:.
1)an algorithm test-bed facility to generate synthetic SMAP soil moisture data products,.
2)a data assimilation system to integrate these synthetic products into a multi-layered land surface model, and.
3)a crop forecasting system to obtain end-of-season crop yield and rangeland productivity forecasts based on the assimilation of soil moisture profile information into the water balance component of a crop systems model.


3.Progress Report

One graduate student began working on the project October 2010 and has completed an initial assessment using synthetic simulation experiments to test the ability of assimilated soil moisture and leaf area index to improve CSM-CROPSIM-CERES-Wheat simulations of wheat yield. The main finding is that assimilation of soil moisture information is only useful under severely water limited conditions. A second graduate student has been identified and will relocate to start a Ph.D. program and begin working on the project in August 2011. Efforts are underway to establish a Specific Cooperative Agreement with the University of Arizona to fund the student. A computer has been purchased and setup for the student. Travel plans are being made to attend a NASA project meeting in October 2011. Activities for the project are solely computer focused. This permits weekly meetings over the Internet via WebEx where the students can share their computer desktop to facilitate discussion of results. Visits to the University of Arizona campus are scheduled when face-to-face meetings are needed, approximately once per quarter.


Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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