Global soil moisture (SM) products are currently available thanks to microwave remote sensing techniques. Validation of these satellite-based SM products over different vegetation and climate conditions is a crucial step. INRA (National Institute of Agricultural Research) has set up the AQUI SM and soil temperature in situ network (composed of three main sites Bouron, Bilos, and Hermitage), over a flat area of dense pine forests, in South-Western France (the Bordeaux–Aquitaine region) to validate the Soil Moisture and Ocean salinity (SMOS) satellite SM products. SMOS was launched in 2009 by the European Space Agency (ESA). The aims of this study are to present the AQUI network and to evaluate the SMOS SM product (in the new SMOS-IC version) along with other microwave SM products such as the active ASCAT (Advanced Scatterometer) and the ESA combined (passive and active) CCI (Climate Change Initiative) SM retrievals. A first comparison, using Pearson correlation, Bias, RMSE (Root Mean Square Error), and Un biased RMSE (ubRMSE) scores, between the 0–5 cm AQUI network and ASCAT, CCI, and SMOS SM products was conducted. In general all the three products were able to reproduce the annual cycle of the AQUI in situ
observations. CCI and ASCAT had best and similar correlations (R~0.72) over the Bouron and Bilos sites. All had comparable correlations over the Hermitage sites with overall average values of 0.74, 0.68, and 0.69 for CCI, SMOS-IC, and ASCAT, respectively. Considering anomalies, correlation values decreased for all products with best ability to capture day to day variations obtained by ASCAT. CCI (followed by SMOS-IC) had the best ubRMSE values (mostly < 0.04 m3
) over most of the stations. Although the region is highly impacted by radio frequency interferences, SMOS-IC followed correctly the in situ SM dynamics. All the three remotely-sensed SM products (except SMOS-IC over some stations) overestimated the AQUI in situ
SM observations. These results demonstrate that the AQUI network is likely to be well-suited for satellite microwave remote sensing evaluations/validations.
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