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ISBN 9783843931397

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978-3-8439-3139-7, Reihe Geowissenschaften

Martin Schrön
Cosmic-Ray Neutron Sensing and its Applications to Soil and Land Surface Hydrology

223 Seiten, Dissertation Universität Potsdam (2017), Softcover, B5

Zusammenfassung / Abstract

Water scarcity, adaption on climate change, and risk assessment of droughts and floods are critical topics for science and society these days. Monitoring and modeling of the hydrological cycle are a prerequisite to understand and predict the consequences for weather and agriculture. As soil water storage plays a key role for partitioning of water fluxes between the atmosphere, biosphere, and lithosphere, measurement techniques are required to estimate soil moisture states from small to large scales.

The method of cosmic-ray neutron sensing (CRNS) promises to close the gap between point-scale and remote-sensing observations, as its footprint was reported to be 30 ha. However, the methodology is rather young and requires highly interdisciplinary research to understand and interpret the response of neutrons to soil moisture. In this work, the signal of nine detectors has been systematically compared, and correction approaches have been revised to account for meteorological and geomagnetic variations. Neutron transport simulations have been consulted to precisely characterize the sensitive footprint area, which turned out to be 6-18 ha, highly local, and temporally dynamic. These results have been experimentally confirmed by the significant influence of water bodies and dry roads. Furthermore, mobile measurements on agricultural fields and across different land use types were able to accurately capture the various soil moisture states. It has been further demonstrated that the corresponding spatial and temporal neutron data can be beneficial for mesoscale hydrological modeling. Finally, first tests with a gyrocopter have proven the concept of airborne neutron sensing, where increased footprints are able to overcome local effects.

This dissertation not only bridges the gap between scales of soil moisture measurements. It also establishes a close connection between the two worlds of observers and modelers, and further aims to combine the disciplines of particle physics, geophysics, and soil hydrology to thoroughly explore the potential and limits of the CRNS method.