By combining the advances in measurement techniques and progress in the numerical tools used to describe the evolution of soil moisture, this project contributes to improve the reliability of current hydrological and meteorological models.
In this projects we focus on the effects of the diurnal cycle induced by the solar radiation forcing, which is not captured by the resolution allowed by satellite measurements (typically 3 days and 30 km). We investigate the potential of Actively Heated Fiber Optics (AHFO) to acquire complementary data of soil-moisture variations. AHFO provides soil-moisture information that is distributed in space with a resolution varying from 1 cm to 1 m depending on experimental setup. In parallel, we focus on advancing the understanding of the relevant mechanisms in field soils, which are not fully understood, and on developing a theoretical framework that predicts short- and midterm evolution of moisture and energy under diurnal forcing.
This key role has fostered large efforts to acquire global soil-moisture information to be used in meteorological and hydrological models. However, assimilation of these low-resolution data (typically acquired by remote sensing satellites) into numerical models requires knowledge of smaller spatiotemporal variability, which have to be acquired by complementary techniques.
Soil moisture is one of most relevant properties of the land surface: it influences land-atmosphere interaction by determining run-off, infiltration, evaporation, and, under some circumstances, even rainfall frequency; also, it affects summer heat waves, which are accentuated if soil is dry.