Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-2022-20
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-2022-20
01 Nov 2022
 | 01 Nov 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal GI.

Testing a novel sensor design to jointly measure cosmic-ray neutrons, muons and gamma rays for non-invasive soil moisture estimation

Stefano Gianessi, Matteo Polo, Luca Stevanato, Marcello Lunardon, Till Francke, Sascha Oswald, Hami Ahmed, Arsenio Tolosa, Georg Weltin, Gerd Dercon, Emil Fulajtar, Lee Heng, and Gabriele Baroni

Abstract. Cosmic-ray neutron sensing (CRNS) has emerged as a reliable method for soil moisture and snow estimation. However, the applicability of this method beyond research has been limited due to, among others, the use of relatively large and expensive sensors. This paper presents the tests conducted to a new scintillator-based sensor especially designed to jointly measure neutron counts, total gamma-rays, and muons. The neutron signal is firstly compared against two conventional gas-tube-based CRNS sensors at two locations (Austria and Germany). The estimated soil moisture is further assessed at four agricultural sites in Italy based on gravimetric soil moisture collected within the sensor footprint. The results show that the signal detected by the new scintillator-based CRNS sensor is well in agreement with the conventional CRNS sensors and with the gravimetric soil moisture measurements. In addition, the muons and the total gamma-rays simultaneously detected by the sensor show promising features for a better correction of the incoming variability and for discriminating irrigation and precipitation events, respectively. Further experiments and analyses should be conducted, however, to better understand the added value of these additional data for soil moisture estimation. Overall, the new scintillator design shows to be a valid and compact alternative to conventional CRNS sensors for non-invasive soil moisture monitoring that can open the path to a wide range of applications.

Stefano Gianessi et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on gi-2022-20', Anonymous Referee #1, 02 Nov 2022
  • CC1: 'Comment on gi-2022-20', Daniel Rasche, 10 Feb 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on gi-2022-20', Anonymous Referee #2, 14 Feb 2023

Stefano Gianessi et al.

Data sets

Data in support to the manuscript: Testing a novel sensor design to jointly measure cosmic-ray neutrons, muons and gamma rays for non-invasive soil moisture estimation by Gianessi et al. Gabriele Baroni https://zenodo.org/record/7261534

Model code and software

Spreadsheets for soil samples and CRNS data processing Gabriele Baroni https://zenodo.org/record/7156607

Stefano Gianessi et al.

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Latest update: 22 Sep 2023
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Short summary
Soil moisture monitoring is important for many applications, from improving weather prediction to support agriculture practices. Our capability to measure this variable is still, however, limited. In this study we show the tests conducted on a new soil moisture sensor at several locations. The results show that the new sensor is a valid and compact alternative to more conventional non-invasive soil moisture sensors that can open the path to a wide range of applications.