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Neutrons on Rails - trans-regional monitoring of soil moisture and snow water equivalent
  • +3
  • Martin Schrön,
  • Sascha E. Oswald,
  • Steffen Zacharias,
  • Mandy Kasner,
  • Peter Dietrich,
  • Sabine Attinger
Martin Schrön
UFZ -Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Sascha E. Oswald
University of Potsdam
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Steffen Zacharias
UFZ -Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH
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Mandy Kasner
UFZ -Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH
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Peter Dietrich
UFZ -Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH
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Sabine Attinger
UFZ -Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH
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Abstract

Large-scale measurements of the spatial distribution of water content in soils and snow are challenging for state-of-the-art hydrogeophysical methods. Cosmic-ray neutron sensing (CRNS) is a non-invasive technology that has the potential to bridge the scale gap between conventional in-situ sensors and remote-sensing products in both, horizontal and vertical domains. In this study we explore the feasibility and potential of estimating water content in soils and snow with neutron detectors in moving trains. Theoretical considerations quantify the stochastic measurement uncertainty as a function of water content, altitude, resolution, and detector efficiency. Numerical experiments demonstrate that the sensitivity of measured water content is almost unperturbed by train materials. And finally three distinct real world experiments provide a proof of concept on short and long-range tracks. With our results a trans-regional observational soil moisture product becomes a realistic vision within the next years.
28 Dec 2021Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 48 issue 24. 10.1029/2021GL093924