On the value of soil moisture measurements in vadose zone hydrology: A review



[1] We explore and review the value of soil moisture measurements in vadose zone hydrology with a focus on the field and catchment scales. This review is motivated by the increasing ability to measure soil moisture with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution across scales. We highlight and review the state of the art in using soil moisture measurements for (1) estimation of soil hydraulic properties, (2) quantification of water and energy fluxes, and (3) retrieval of spatial and temporal dynamics of soil moisture profiles. We argue for the urgent need to have access to field monitoring sites and databases that include detailed information about variability of hydrological fluxes and parameters, including their upscaled values. In addition, improved data assimilation methods are needed that fully exploit the information contained in soil moisture data. The development of novel upscaling methods for predicting effective moisture fluxes and disaggregation schemes toward integrating large-scale soil moisture measurements in hydrological models will increase the value of soil moisture measurements. Finally, we recognize a need to develop strategies that combine hydrogeophysical measurement techniques with remote sensing methods.