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|Created:||Apr 01, 2018 at 7:08 p.m.|
|Last updated:|| Apr 09, 2018 at 6:07 p.m.
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Through its role in the energy and water balances at the land surface, soil moisture is a key state variable in surface hydrology and land‐atmosphere interactions. Point observations of soil moisture are easy to make using established methods such as time domain reflectometry and gravimetric sampling. However, monitoring large‐scale variability with these techniques is logistically and economically infeasible. Here passive soil distributed temperature sensing (DTS) will be introduced as an experimental method of measuring soil moisture on the basis of DTS. Several fiber‐optic cables in a vertical profile are used as thermal sensors, measuring propagation of temperature changes due to the diurnal cycle. Current technology allows these cables to be in excess of 10 km in length, and DTS equipment allows measurement of temperatures every 1 m. The passive soil DTS concept is based on the fact that soil moisture influences soil thermal properties. Therefore, observing temperature dynamics can yield information on changes in soil moisture content. Results from this preliminary study demonstrate that passive soil DTS can detect changes in thermal properties. Deriving soil moisture is complicated by the uncertainty and nonuniqueness in the relationship between thermal conductivity and soil moisture. A numerical simulation indicates that the accuracy could be improved if the depth of the cables was known with greater certainty.
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