Soil moisture (SM) products derived from passive satellite missions are playing an increasingly important role in agricultural applications, especially crop monitoring and disaster warning. Evaluating the dependability of satellite-derived soil moisture products on a large scale is crucial. In this study, we assessed the level 2 (L2) SM product from the Chinese Fengyun-3C (FY-3C) radiometer against in-situ measurements collected from the Chinese Automatic Soil Moisture Observation Stations (CASMOS) during a one-year period from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2016 across Henan in China. In contrast, we also investigated the skill of the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) and Soil Moisture Active/Passive (SMAP) SM products simultaneously. Four statistical parameters were used to evaluate these products’ reliability: mean difference, root-mean-square error (RMSE), unbiased RMSE (ubRMSE), and the correlation coefficient. Our assessment results revealed that the FY-3C L2 SM product generally showed a poor correlation with the in-situ SM data from CASMOS on both temporal and spatial scales. The AMSR2 L3 SM product of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) algorithm had a similar level of skill as FY-3C in the study area. The SMAP L3 SM product outperformed the FY-3C temporally but showed lower performance in capturing the SM spatial variation. A time-series analysis indicated that the correlations and estimated error varied systematically through the growing periods of the key crops in our study area. FY-3C L2 SM data tended to overestimate soil moisture during May, August, and September when the crops reached maximum vegetation density and tended to underestimate the soil moisture content during the rest of the year. The comparison between the statistical parameters and the ground vegetation water content (VWC) further showed that the FY-3C SM product performed much better under a low VWC condition (<0.3 kg/m2
) than a high VWC condition (>0.3 kg/m2
), and the performance generally decreased with increased VWC. To improve the accuracy of the FY-3C SM product, an improved algorithm that can better characterize the variations of the ground VWC should be applied in the future.
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