A MUlti-scale Soil moisture-Evapotranspiration Dynamics study - AMUSED

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Civil Engineering

Abstract

The ultimate goal of the "A MUlti-scale Soil moisture-Evapotranspiration Dynamics study - AMUSED" project is to identify the spatial/temporal scale-dependency of key dominant processes that control changes in soil moisture and land-atmosphere interactions. Soil moisture plays a major role in the environment/climate system because the transports of water within the land and the land-atmosphere interface are strongly dependent on the state of soil water in a region. Despite its importance, lack of soil moisture measurements at various spatial scales has limited our understanding of how individual physical factors control soil moisture dynamics. This is especially important given recent efforts develop hyper-resolution hydrometeorological models for operational numerical weather and climate predictions.

AMUSED employs new innovative technology for soil moisture monitoring using cosmic-rays sensors in combination with land surface modeling, satellite remote sensing, and model diagnostics and data assimilation methods. The new cosmic-ray sensors can measure soil moisture at an unprecedented sub-kilometer scale. The technology has revolutionized the field of hydrometeorology because it provides, for the first time, a unique opportunity to fill the gap between soil moisture observations from traditional point-scale sensors and large-scale from satellite remote sensing products.

The proposed 3-year research will focus on the initial COSMOS-UK sites located near the Thames region whose complex interactions of population growth, increases in per capita consumption of resources, changes in land use will likely be impacted by future climate change. The project seeks to identify whether a unified science of land-atmosphere interactions across multiple-scales can be achievable, or if simpler scale-dependent (and sometimes empirical) parameterizations in combination with data assimilation can provide uniquely acceptable predictions of soil moisture dynamics and land surface processes (e.g., evapotranspiration). AMUSED will therefore expand the notion of operational data assimilation implementation by further introducing model diagnostics in order to identify which model structures or parameterizations are likely to affect state estimation via data assimilation. These findings will enhance our current understanding and the representation of soil moisture and surface processes in numerical weather prediction and climate models in the UK.

Planned Impact

"A MUlti-scale Soil moisture-Evapotranspiration Dynamics study - AMUSED" will benefit government agencies, industry, and policy/decision makers, stakeholders and public in general in providing, for the first time, an improved understanding of soil moisture dynamics and evapotranspiration losses at unprecedented spatial scales in the UK. Moreover, a mechanism to provide soil moisture estimates at multiple scales will allow for targeted applications to societal and economic benefits. This will provide the basis for improved prediction of hydrometeorological events such as floods and droughts. Impacts are summarized as follows:

Societal and economic impacts:
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH): CEH will benefit from data-knowledge exchange and improved understanding of the use of new cosmic-ray technology in the UK. The use of the COSMIC model developed by the PI provides a key advance in using such novel technology for monitoring purposes and data assimilation/fusion applications. Results obtained under this proposal will be applied to other COSMOS-UK stations to provide a continuous, high-quality monitoring network available for the society and policy/decision makers and stakeholders.

The Environment Agency (EA): The results of this research will enable the EA to improve its flood warning system with a more accurate description of the soil moisture dynamics in the region (and ultimately nationally). This has direct societal and economic impact, as floods and drought continue to cause severe damages in certain areas across the nation.

Met Office (MO): Model's of Earth's weather and climate require accurate fluxes (e.g., momentum, energy, water) across the land-atmosphere interface to solve the equations of atmospheric physics and dynamics. Hence, the MO will benefit from a comprehensive evaluation of the JULES model by focusing on key parameterizations to be improved for operational weather and climate modeling. Furthermore, knowledge on soil moisture profiles can help improve and downscale essential hydrometeorological variables calculated by the Met Office Rainfall and Evaporation Calculation System (MORECS).

Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra): Food security has immense implications on the society and economic growth in the UK, especially under uncertain climatic conditions in the future. Improved hydrological outlooks and consequently more effective mitigation strategies (e.g., drought or flood mitigation) can greatly impact on food availability. Hence, Defra is also a key stakeholder which will benefit from the outcomes of the proposal.

People:
General Public: The general public is directly affected by hydrometeorological events such as floods, droughts, and extreme weather. For example, heavy rainfall on nearly-saturated soils, such as those observed towards the end of 2013 and early 2014, will eventually cause major disruptions due to flood, as broadly informed by the media on television and radio stations. The unprecedented spatial scales studied under this proposal are directly related to how well we can predict such situations in advance. Hence being able to communicate with the public about the basic and relevant importance of soil moisture is extremely beneficial for societal wellbeing. Notice that initial training of a PDRA on six identified "most wanted" skills by NERC's Skills Review 2012 will be carried out in this project, but this can potentially attract more prospective students (both at undergraduate and graduate levels) interested in engineering and environmental sciences, specifically to the research areas highlighted in this proposal.

PI: Of importance, the nature of this funding will ultimately impact the PI of this proposal by ensuring the appropriate financial support to establish a research group on terrestrial hydrometeorology and environmental engineering at the University of Bristol, while establishing the PI as a researcher leader in the subject.

Publications

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Iwema J (2016) Reducing soil moisture measurement scale mismatch to improve surface energy flux estimation in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions

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Rahman M (2017) Towards a simple representation of chalk hydrology in land surface modelling in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences

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Rahman M (2016) The effect of chalk representation in land surface modelling in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions

 
Description The AMUSED project employs new innovative cosmic-ray neutron sensors for soil moisture monitoring in the UK, and combine them with land surface models and remote sensing data. We have installed 3 stations corresponding ~1-2 km^2 area at the Sheepdrove Organic Farm. Here are the findings from AMUSED:
[1] Due to humid environmental conditions, a single calibration (as originally suggested) may not be sufficient for UK sites, and 2-4 calibration dates have been planned for AMUSED stations (results based on Iwema et al. 2015); [2] AMUSED sites are located in Chalk outcrop in southern England. The default representation of soil hydrology in JULES is limited. We have improved the representation of Chalk hydrology in JULES by using data from past experiments near the site with information from our fieldwork activities (Rahman and Rosolem (2017)); [3] We have a better understanding of how cosmic-ray sensors can be used in combination with the MetOffice/CEH JULES land surface model (Iwema et al., 2017); [4] We have now learned more about the spatial characteristics of the cosmic-ray neutron sensor in collaboration with our partners from UFZ-Leipzig. Our newly-developed method for sensor calibration can reduce the noise and provide more accurate signals, especially at humid sites such as in the UK (Schron et al. 2017; 2018). We are also learning more about the uncertainties associated with the sensor in the UK (Iwema, PhD Thesis Dec/2017); [5] We have made significant progress in representing groundwater process targetting to land surface and Earth system models with a simplified yet robust parameterization (Rahman et al., 2019).
Exploitation Route (1) We expect our new version of JULES, which can represent Chalk hydrology to be used by other land surface or hydrological modeling groups in the UK; (2) We have been already approached by potential collaborators who are interested in using the data from our monitoring stations; (3) The proposed changes due to macropore flow have been positively accepted by JULES developers/users at CEH and MetOffice. Our group is also taking the lead on investigating the role of groundwater in such models and have been in direct discussion with MetOffice (Dr Huw Lewis), in particular in the context of Flood Forecasting Centre (FFC) and the UK Environmental Prediction (UKEP) system; (4) We are making significant progress in understanding mobile capabilities for cosmic-ray soil moisture sensors (in collaboration with UFZ Leipzig); (5) We are currently developing a highly efficient and simplified aquifer model to be incorporated in large-scale hydrometeorological models
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment

 
Description We have just started making progress with Sheepdrove Organic Farm in order to begin the process to send summary data that are useful to them. This initial process began in Summer/2016 but has been stopped due to the fact that our main point of contact (previous farm manager) has left the farm. We are now waiting for a new farm manager to be appointed and have been in contact to discuss what data could be useful to them. UPDATE (2018/03/06): We are in contact with the new farm manager from Sheepdrove and have started the discussion on data use. (2019/03/12): The dataset from our stations has been made publicly available online via CEDA (https://catalogue.ceda.ac.uk/uuid/cef0068506d0458f903bd79edbf9df31). The Sheepdrove Farm has been currently undergoing changes in management (as we have been recently informed). Regardless of these changes, we will continue communication with farm managers on the use of our data as planned.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Brazilian Experimental datasets for MUlti-Scale interactions in the critical zone under Extreme Drought (BEMUSED)
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/R004897/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2018 
End 01/2020
 
Description Faculty of Engineering New Equipment Bid
Amount £34,567 (GBP)
Organisation University of Bristol 
Department Queen's School of Engineering
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2015 
 
Description Queens School of Engineering Research Pump Priming Fund
Amount £2,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Bristol 
Department Queen's School of Engineering
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2016 
End 08/2016
 
Description University of Bristol International Strategic Fund
Amount £3,500 (GBP)
Organisation University of Bristol 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2015 
End 07/2015
 
Title AMUSED monitoring stations 
Description At each AMUSED site, we collect standard meteorological data, including air temperature, barometric pressure, relative humidity, rainfall. In addition, we collect soil moisture measurements from standard point-scale sensors (FDR) at 5 and 15 cm depths, respectively. Each site is also equipped with novel cosmic-ray neutron sensor technology for soil moisture monitoring. All data can be visualized at http://nearfld.com/ (username = amused, password = amused). Currently, the data is not fully processed. We will work on full QC during the year 2 of the project and will make the data available via website. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This data is now being used by researchers and students at the University of Bristol at various levels of project and research. We have made progress with NERC databases to make this dataset freely available. We are waiting to be contacted back by NERC representatives on information about next steps. 
URL http://nearfld.com/
 
Title CEDA AMUSED datatset 
Description Dataset from AMUSED three stations located at the Sheepdrove Organic Farm. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The data has just recently been published. We expect the free availability of the data will impact their use by other institutions and agencies (e.g., CEH or UK Met Office). 
URL https://catalogue.ceda.ac.uk/uuid/cef0068506d0458f903bd79edbf9df31
 
Description Bristol-CEH Wallingford 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council
Department Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Bristol-CEH agreement to share AMUSED data at Sheepdrove Organic Farm for current and future research opportunities. CEH supports data processing for recently acquired eddy flux system maintained by Bristol
Collaborator Contribution CEH will host and quality control part of the data collected from AMUSED sites at Sheepdrove Organic Farm (those not directly related to the cosmic-ray neutron sensors) and will work in collaboration to send these datasets to Bristol on a timely basis. CEH will also help with minimal maintenance advice for some devices.
Impact Currently involved in potential applications for proposals in the near future. CEH-Bristol to lead the use of cosmic-ray soil moisture sensors in collaboration. In addition, the data have been used for research projects at Bristol for undergraduate and MSc level projects.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Bristol-Hydroinnova collaboration 
Organisation Dearne Valley College
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are testing the use of new innovative cosmic-ray neutron sensors to measure soil moisture at field scale (600m diameter). Our findings related to the use of these sensors in more humid environment such as in the UK.
Collaborator Contribution Hydroinnova LLC provides technical support and recommendations on the use of the sensors. They also provide basic support for data transmission (via Iridium satellite) to our database website. A Hydroinnova representative also participated in our pilot fieldwork activities with students and researchers at our AMUSED site.
Impact The interaction with Hydroinnova LLC has ensured the high-quality of our soil moisture measurements using cosmic-ray sensors. Real-time data from AMUSED sites can now be visualized at http://nearfld.com/ (username = amused, password = amused). Some data can be made available upon request or online. We will be working on processing the first year of data during the second year of the AMUSED project.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Bristol-Julich collaboration 
Organisation Julich Research Centre
Country Germany 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have made contributions on the understanding of cosmic-ray soil moisture sensors in humid environments such as UK and Germany, in collaboration with Julich. In addition, Bristol-Julich collaboration includes the development of new schemes for aquifer representation in large-scale land surface or hydrological models
Collaborator Contribution Julich has supported the analyses for the paper published by Iwema in 2015 by providing additional data. Julich is currently collaborating with us on the development of new aquifer models for large-scale land surface or hydrological modeling applications.
Impact Publication of Iwema et al. 2015 in HESS (related to AMUSED); Publication of Han et al. 2015 in HESS; Additional paper by Han in Journal of Hydrology; PI to visit Julich for PhD defense as exernal examiner in 2016; current aquifer model manuscript in preparation
Start Year 2014
 
Description Bristol-NCAR collaboration 
Organisation NCAR National Center for Atmospheric Research
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Initial work to implement the Data Assimilation Research Testbed (DART) to be used in the AMUSED project
Collaborator Contribution DAReS/NCAR is providing support on the implementation of DART framework in Bristol as part of the AMUSED project.
Impact This is an ongoing work at initial stage. We expect to report outputs at the end of our second year in the project. Given the complex task of implementing the aquifer parameterization into JULES, and the timeframe of the project, we have currently prioritize the development of the aquifer model and, temporarily stopped the development of the data assimilation platform using JULES. Currently seeking opportunities to resume this particular component of the collaboration.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Bristol-UFZ Leipzig 
Organisation Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Department Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
Country Germany 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Ongoing collaboration between research group in Bristol and UFZ Leipzig on the use of mobile cosmic-ray sensors. Bristol hosted UFZ researcher to carry out cosmic-ray rover surveys in our experimental area as well as within our catchment of interest.
Collaborator Contribution 6-month visit by Dr Martin Schron to Bristol University to carry out mobile cosmic-ray soil moisture surveys in our experimental "AMUSED" sites.
Impact One manuscript (Schron et al. 2017) has been published. One, "The Cosmic-Ray Neutron Rover - Mobile Surveys of Field Soil Moisture and the Influence of Roads" is currently under review in Water Resources Research (accepted with moderate revisions). There are at least two manuscripts under preparation from this collaboration.
Start Year 2016
 
Description 2016 British Hydrological Society Peter Wolf Young Hydrologists Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Visit to Sheepdrove Organic Farm in Lambourn, Berkshire: Sheepdrove Farm is an interesting site from an ecological, hydrological, geomorphological, and land-surface processes perspective. As part of a NERC-funded research project led by Dr. Rafael Rosolem (University of Bristol), hydrometeorological sensors have been installed in the farm to better understand soil moisture and surface energy flux heterogeneity. The field trip included a visit to different measurement spots. It also included presentations about farm management practices and ecology by Sheepdrove Farm Manager Dan Bull, and about the AMUSED project by Dr Rafael Rosolem.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cabot/events/2016/hydrological-symposium.html
 
Description Cabot Institute Blog Article 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Cabot Institute Blog article describing our efforts to deploy our AMUSED hydrological stations while engaging with students at different levels of their career, and the importance for engineering and sciences in hydrology.
Outcome: A direct outcome seen after posting this article was that the number of undergraduate students approaching me interested in doing some "small-scale" research at the sites has increased significantly. 2015 = 1 student (mentioned in the article), 2016 = 1 student (Brazil Science Without Borders Program), 2017 = 8 (3 undergraduate students seeking for research project ideas, 1 cross-faculty student seeking for use of data, 4 MSc students from our Water and Environmental Management Programme).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://cabot-institute.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/fieldwork-activities-great-opportunity.html
 
Description Darcy Lecture Series at University of Bristol 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Prof Ty Ferre (University of Arizona) is the Darcy Lecture series recipient for 2016 (awarded by the US National Ground Water Association). Dr Rafael Rosolem hosted Prof Ferre (as part of AMUSED outreach activities) to present the Darcy Lecture entitled "Seeing things differently: Rethinking the relationship between data and models". The seminar was open to public within and outside university and had a good attendance in our School of Engineering. For more information, please visit: https://darcylecture2016.wordpress.com/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cabot/events/2016/seeing-things-differently.html
 
Description European Geophysical Union - Short Course on Soil Moisture at Local Scales 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Short course involving 3 academics presenting and discussing novel technologies for soil moisture monitoring across spatial scales. I presented about the novel cosmic-ray soil moisture technology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2015/session/19020
 
Description Fieldwork activity with students and researchers 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact We ran a pilot test to engage students from different background and at different career levels to participate in fieldwork activities supported by the AMUSED project. This included UG student from Brazil Science Without Borders, PG student from University of Bristol, AMUSED PDRA and PI, and a representative from Hydroinnova which manufactures the novel cosmic-ray sensors for soil moisture measurements.

Based on last year's success, we are expanding this year's fieldwork activities to broader PG audience, as part of the British Hydrological Society Peter Wolf Symposium 2016 (see announcement and further details at http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cabot/events/2016/hydrological-symposium.html).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://cabot-institute.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/fieldwork-activities-great-opportunity.html
 
Description Inited talk at United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency Meeting on the Use of Cosmic-Ray Neutron Sensor for Irrigation and Extreme Weather Events 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Expert panel meeting to discuss wider use of applications involving the use of cosmic-ray neutron sensor in agricultural, hydrological, and environmental sciences with focus on developing countries. Personal invitation due to expertise on sensor technology and hydrometeorology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Invited talk at CEH COSMOS-UK Science Exploitation Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact COSMOS-UK held its first Science Exploitation Workshop on Monday, 1st of February 2016 at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. Over 40 people attended from across Great Britain, Norway and Sweden, ranging from COSMOS-UK site managers, technology development managers, academics and research scientists. The objectives of the workshop were to: provide an understanding of the derivation of soil moisture provided by the sensors; share the plans of the COSMOS-UK project with potential users of the data; understand users' requirements for COSMOS-UK data and information products; and consider prioritisation of activities of COSMOS-UK project to maximise benefits to users.
My talk was focused on showing the preliminary results from our AMUSED project and discuss advantages and limitations of the technology with the entire audience.
Outcomes: Direct outcomes were seen after this talk. I have been invited to contribute to 1 large grant application, currently in discussion with other funding opportunities, and also invited to disseminate the technology to other institutions in England and Scotland
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://cosmos.ceh.ac.uk/ScienceExploitationWorkshop2016
 
Description Invited talk to Wessex Water 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Talk to Wessex Water Catchment Management Team (at Poole). Discuss use of cosmic-ray soil moisture sensors for catchment based studies. Positive feedback. Proposed action to keep looking for engagement with Wessex Water via PG opportunities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description News article in University of Bristol Cabot Institute Magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A short article about new technologies for measuring soil moisture to improve hydrology (flood) predictions linking with the use of cosmic-ray sensors used in the AMUSED project and potential partnership to COSMOS-UK network established by CEH-Wallingford.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cabot/news/2015/cabot-magazine-2015.html
 
Description Participation in an activity, workshop or similar - Session Proposal at European Geosciences Union 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Session proposal on "Cosmic rays across scales and disciplines: the new frontier in environmental research" (GI2.7/AS4.16/CL5.23/EMRP4.8/HS11.13/PS4.7) presented as chair.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2018/session/27230
 
Description Session Proposal at American Geophysical Union 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact In the last 2 years (2015-2016), I have been convening a relatively popular session at the internationally-recognized American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. The session has been motivated by our preliminary results that show limited representation of key hydrological processes in land surface models such as the JULES model we are using in our project. The session has been an interesting channel for debate and presentation of ideas, and me and my colleagues have been fortunate to host key people from the field since it was first proposed in 2015 (see summary below)
2015: Integrated Large-Scale Observations and Experiments: From Bedrock to Boundary Layer (oral and poster sessions). Key speakers: Harald Kunstman (KIT, Germany), Jeffrey McDonnell (Saskatchewan, Canada; AGU Hydrology President), Ana Barros (Duke, USA), Wade Crow (USDA, USA)
2016: Advances in Understanding and Remote Sensing of Land-Atmosphere Interactions: From Bedrock to Boundary Layer (2 oral and 1 poster session). Key speakers: Stefan Kollet (Julich, Germany), Samuel E Tuttle (Boston, USA),
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
 
Description Session Proposal at American Geophysical Union 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Very popular session on "Advances in Understanding Land-Atmosphere Interactions in a Changing Environment". This session was divided into 4 oral slots (i.e., a full day of talks) as well as an entire afternoon of poster presentations. Estimated that the session reached approximately 80-100 individuals per block. Presentations were well mixed between senior (highly renowned) academics as well as young (early career) scientists from many institutions worldwide.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://fallmeeting.agu.org/2017/program-overview/