Version 4 of the SMAP Level-4 Soil Moisture algorithm and data product

Rolf H. Reichle, Qing Liu, Randal D. Koster, Wade T. Crow, Gabrielle J.M. De Lannoy, John S. Kimball, Joseph V. Ardizzone, David Bosch, Andreas Colliander, Michael Cosh, Jana Kolassa, Sarith P. Mahanama, John Prueger, Patrick Starks, Jeffrey P. Walker

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113 Citations (Scopus)


The NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission Level-4 Soil Moisture (L.4_SM) product provides global, 3-hourly, 9-km resolution estimates of surface (0–5 cm) and root zone (0–100 cm) soil moisture with a mean latency of ~2.5 days. The underlying L4_SM algorithm assimilates SMAP radiometer brightness temperature (Tb) observations into the NASA Catchment land surface model using a spatially distributed ensemble Kalman filter. In Version 4 of the L4_SM modeling system the upward recharge of surface soil moisture from below under nonequilibrium conditions was reduced, resulting in less bias and improved dynamic range of L4_SM surface soil moisture compared to earlier versions. This change and additional technical modifications to the system reduce the mean and standard deviation of the observation-minus-forecast Tb residuals and overall soil moisture analysis increments while maintaining the skill of the L4_SM soil moisture estimates versus independent in situ measurements; the average, bias-adjusted root-mean-square error in Version 4 is 0.039 m3/m3 for surface and 0.026 m3/m3 for root zone soil moisture. Moreover, the coverage of assimilated SMAP observations in Version 4 is near global owing to the use of additional satellite Tb records for algorithm calibration. L4_SM soil moisture uncertainty estimates are biased low (by 0.01–0.02 m3/m3) against actual errors (computed versus in situ measurements). L4_SM runoff estimates, an additional product of the L4_SM algorithm, are biased low (by 35 mm/year) against streamflow measurements. Compared to Version 3, bias in Version 4 is reduced by 46% for surface soil moisture uncertainty estimates and by 33% for runoff estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3106-3130
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • Catchment land surface model
  • data assimilation
  • L-band passive microwave
  • runoff
  • soil moisture
  • Soil Moisture Active Passive

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