The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) included soil moisture in the list of Essential
Climate Variables (ECVs) to express its important role in Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycle.
Soil moisture has a major impact on agriculture, land surface hydrology, weather, and climate
forecasting. This document is a community-based effort to provide recommendations on good
practices for the validation of global to regional soil moisture products.
Definitions are given and metrics to adequately describe the quality of soil moisture products are presented. Spaceborne active and passive microwave sensors are listed with their characteristics, and the typical soil moisture retrieval methods are explained, including dielectric mixing models and optical methods. Spatial scaling, root zone soil moisture estimation, and operational implementations are addressed, as these issues continue to gain more and more importance. Standard and advanced in situ measurement techniques are described as well as sensor calibration, spatial representativity, sampling strategies, and the benefit of airborne campaigns.The community has agreed upon the utilization of the International Soil Moisture Network (ISMN) as the main online repository for in situ soil moisture measurements. Different validation methods such as ground-based validation, satellite product intercomparison, and time series analyses are presented. We provide strategies to evaluate the long-term quality of soil moisture products, and give advice on how to handle typical temporal and spatial-scale mismatches and how to effectively report validation results. Moreover, the benefit of blind tests is discussed to gain objective validation results.
We encourage data providers, scientists and practitioners to use this Soil Moisture Product Validation Good Practices Protocol to provide, analyze, and improve high quality Earth Observation results.