Multiscale Bayesian neural networks for soil water content estimation Academic Article uri icon


  • Artificial neural networks (ANN) have been used for some time now to estimate soil hydraulic parameters from other available or more easily measurable soil properties. However, most such uses of ANNs as pedotransfer functions (PTFs) have been at matching spatial scales (1:1) of inputs and outputs. This approach assumes that the outputs are only required at the same scale as the input data. Unfortunately, this is rarely true. Different hydrologic, hydroclimatic, and contaminant transport models require soil hydraulic parameter data at different spatial scales, depending upon their grid sizes. While conventional (deterministic) ANNs have been traditionally used in these studies, the use of Bayesian training of ANNs is a more recent development. In this paper, we develop a Bayesian framework to derive soil water retention function including its uncertainty at the point or local scale using PTFs trained with coarser-scale Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO)-based soil data. The approach includes an ANN trained with Bayesian techniques as a PTF tool with training and validation data collected across spatial extents (scales) in two different regions in the United States. The two study areas include the Las Cruces Trench site in the Rio Grande basin of New Mexico, and the Southern Great Plains 1997 (SGP97) hydrology experimental region in Oklahoma. Each region-specific Bayesian ANN is trained using soil texture and bulk density data from the SSURGO database (scale 1:24,000), and predictions of the soil water contents at different pressure heads with point scale data (1:1) inputs are made. The resulting outputs are corrected for bias using both linear and nonlinear correction techniques. The results show good agreement between the soil water content values measured at the point scale and those predicted by the Bayesian ANN-based PTFs for both the study sites. Overall, Bayesian ANNs coupled with nonlinear bias correction are found to be very suitable tools for deriving soil hydraulic parameters at the local/fine scale from soil physical properties at coarser-scale and across different spatial extents. This approach could potentially be used for soil hydraulic properties estimation and downscaling. Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Jana, R. B., Mohanty, B. P., & Springer, E. P.

citation count

  • 25

publication date

  • August 2008