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In The Science of the total environment

Accurate information on soil moisture (SM) is critical in various applications including agriculture, climate, hydrology, soil and drought. In this paper, various predictive relationships including regression (Multiple Linear Regression, MLR), machine learning (Random Forest, RF; Triangular regression, Tr) and spatial modeling (Inverse Distance Weighing, IDW and Ordinary kriging, OK) approaches were compared to estimate SM in a semi-arid mountainous watershed. In developing predictive relationship, Remote Sensing datasets including Landsat 8 satellite imagery derived surface biophysical characteristic, ASTER digital elevation model (DEM) derived surface topographical characteristic, climatic data recorded at the synoptic station and in situ SM data measured at Landsat 8 overpass time were utilized, while in spatial modeling, point-based SM measurements were interpolated. While 70%(calibration set) of the measured SM data were used for modeling, 30%(validation set) were used to evaluate modeling accuracy. Finally, the SM uncertainty maps were created for different models based on a bootstrapping approach. Among the environmental parameter sets, land surface temperature (LST) showed the highest impact on the spatial distribution of SM in the region at all dates. Mean R2(RMSE) between measured and modeled SM on three dates obtained from the MLR, RF, IDW, OK, and Tr models were 0.70(1.97%), 0.72(1.92%), 0.59(2.38%), 0.59(2.27%) and 0.71(1.99%), respectively. The results showed that RF and IDW produced the highest and lowest performance in SM modeling, respectively. Generally, the performance of RS-based models was higher than interpolation models for estimating SM due to the influence from combination of topographic parameters and surface biophysical characteristics. Modeled SM uncertainty with different models varies in the study area. The highest uncertainty in SM modeling was observed at the north part of the study area where the surface heterogeneity is high. Using RS data increased the accuracy of SM modeling because they can capture the surface biophysical characteristics and topographical properties heterogeneity.

Fathololoumi Solmaz, Vaezi Ali Reza, Alavipanah Seyed Kazem, Ghorbani Ardavan, Biswas Asim


Interpolation methods, Regression, Soil moisture, Uncertainty, Variable importance, Vector machine