A Nonstationary Geostatistical Framework for Soil Moisture Prediction in the Presence of Surface Heterogeneity Academic Article uri icon


  • 2019. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Soil moisture is spatially variable due to complex interactions between geologic, topographic, vegetation, and atmospheric variables. Correct representation of subgrid soil moisture variability is crucial in improving land surface modeling schemes and remote sensing retrievals. In addition to the mean structure, the variance and correlation of soil moisture are affected by the underlying land surface heterogeneity. This often violates the underlying assumption of stationarity/isotropy made by classical geostatistical models. The present study proposes a geostatistical framework to predict and upscale soil moisture in a nonstationary setting using a flexible spatial model whose variance/correlation structure varies with changing land surface characteristics. The proposed framework is applied to model soil moisture distribution using in situ data in the Red River watershed in Southern Manitoba, Canada. It is seen that both the variance and correlation structure exhibits spatial nonstationarity for the given surface heterogeneity driven primarily by vegetation and soil texture. At the beginning of the crop season, soil texture plays a critical role in the drying cycle by decreasing variance and increasing correlation as the soil becomes drier. Once the crops begin to mature, vegetation becomes the dominant driver, promoting spatial correlation and reducing SM variance. We upscale our point scale soil moisture predictions to the airborne extent (1.5 km) and find that the upscaled soil moisture agrees well with the observed airborne data with root-mean-square error values ranging from 0.04 to 0.08 (v/v). The proposed framework can be used to predict and upscale soil moisture in heterogeneous environments.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 1.85

author list (cited authors)

  • Kathuria, D., Mohanty, B. P., & Katzfuss, M.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Kathuria, Dhruva||Mohanty, Binayak P||Katzfuss, Matthias

publication date

  • January 2019