Reconstruction of ESA CCI satellite-derived soil moisture using an artificial neural network technology

Zhang, Linqi; Liu, Yi; Ren, Liliang; Teuling, Adriaan J.; Zhang, Xiaoxiang; Jiang, Shanhu; Yang, Xiaoli; Wei, Linyong; Zhong, Feng; Zheng, Lihong


Soil moisture (SM) is a vital variable for controlling water and heat exchange between the atmosphere and land surface. Spatiotemporally continuous satellite-derived SM information is urgently needed for large-scale meteorological and hydrological applications. This study proposes the application of a spatial gap-filling method using an artificial neural network (ANN) to reconstruct missing records of daily surface SM from the Climate Change Initiative program of the European Space Agency (ESA CCI) in the growing seasons of 1982–2015 across China. Ten environmental variables were taken into consideration, including meteorological forcing, geographic and topographic features, vegetation conditions, and soil texture. The ANN-reconstructed SM and RF-reconstructed SM were validated using the ground-based observations and three global reanalysis SM datasets. The gap-filling results by the ANN model were compared to that by the original kriging (OK) model under three simulation scenarios: SM images with removed swaths, varying vegetation densities, and different percentages of data gaps. The results showed that the ANN-reconstructed SM was in good agreement with in-situ SM observations, with the CC more than 0.607 and the RMSE less than 0.074 m3/m3 over the northwestern and eastern parts of China. Compared with the original ESA CCI SM, the ANN model performed better than the OK model in reconstructing SM with absent swaths and in densely and sparsely vegetated regions. Specifically, the ANN-reconstructed SM provided a higher estimation accuracy in regions with low-density vegetation than in those with high-density vegetation. The weaker performance may due to the complex interactions between surface SM and various environmental variables underneath the dense vegetation. In addition, the ANN model significantly outperformed the OK model by accurately estimating SM when the percentage of data gaps succeeded 40%. Our study is valuable for providing an alternative reference to reconstruct satellite-derived SM and highlights the potential of using the ANN model.