New DEMs may stimulate significant advancements in remote sensing of soil moisture
Article first published online: 19 DEC 2012
©2003. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union
Volume 84, Issue 25, pages 233–237, 24 June 2003
How to Cite
2003), New DEMs may stimulate significant advancements in remote sensing of soil moisture, Eos Trans. AGU, 84(25), 233–237, doi:10.1029/2003EO250001., and (
- Issue published online: 19 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 19 DEC 2012
From Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo to increasing corn yields in Kansas to greenhouse gas flux in the Arctic, the importance of soil moisture is endemic to world affairs and merits the considerable attention it receives from the scientific community. This importance can hardly be overstated, though it often goes unstated.
Soil moisture is one of the key variables in a variety of broad areas critical to the conduct of societies' economic and political affairs and their well-being; these include the health of agricultural crops, global climate dynamics, military trafficability planning, and hazards such as flooding and forest fires. Unfortunately the in situ measurement of the spatial distribution of soil moisture on a watershed-scale is practically impossible. And despite decades of international effort, a satellite remote sensing technique that can reliably measure soil moisture with a spatial resolution of meters has not yet been identified or implemented. Due to the lack of suitable measurement techniques and, until recently digital elevation models (DEMs), our ability to understand and predict soil moisture dynamics through modeling has largely remained crippled from birth [Grayson and Bloschl, 200l].