Gap Filling of High-Resolution Soil Moisture for SMAP/Sentinel-1: A Two-Layer Machine Learning-Based Framework Academic Article uri icon


  • 2019. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. As the most recent 3-km soil moisture product from the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission, the SMAP/Sentinel-1 L2_SM_SP product has a unique capability to provide global-scale 3-km soil moisture estimates through the fusion of radar and radiometer microwave observations. The spatial and temporal availability of this high-resolution soil moisture product depends on concurrent radar and radiometer observations which is significantly restricted by the narrow swath and low revisit schedule of the Sentinel-1 radars. To address this issue, this paper presents a novel two-layer machine learning-based framework which predicts the brightness temperature and subsequently the soil moisture at gap areas. The proposed method is able to gap-fill soil moisture satisfactorily at areas where the radiometer observations are available while the radar observations are missing. We find that incorporating historical radar backscatter measurements (30-day average) into the machine learning framework boosts its predictive performance. The effectiveness of the two-layer framework is validated against regional holdout SMAP/Sentinel-1 3-km soil moisture estimates at four study areas with distinct climate regimes. Results indicate that our proposed method is able to reconstruct 3-km soil moisture at gap areas with high Pearson correlation coefficient (47%/35%/20%/80% improvement of mean R, at Arizona/Oklahoma/Iowa/Arkansas) and low unbiased Root Mean Square Error (20%/10%/7%/26% improvement of mean unbiased root mean square error) when compared to the SMAP 33-km soil moisture product. Additional validations against airborne data and in situ data from soil moisture networks are also satisfactory.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 5.7

author list (cited authors)

  • Mao, H., Kathuria, D., Duffield, N., & Mohanty, B. P.

citation count

  • 28

complete list of authors

  • Mao, Hanzi||Kathuria, Dhruva||Duffield, Nick||Mohanty, Binayak P

publication date

  • August 2019