GLOBE Connections

Measuring Soil Moisture: GLOBE Student Project Spotlight

SMAP Image

The Effect of Various Circumstances on Soil Moisture Project Overview:  NASA’s SMAP satellite helps predict floods and droughts. Our role in this was Student Exampleto calibrate the satellite with data we derived from the measurements we took. Our research consists of the analysis of field data. We took eight soil samples in three different locations, which had different soil types. Our aim was to measure how various meteorological circumstances affected the soil moisture, such as precipitation and humidity. For our results, we composed a number of tables containing the data we collected from our measurements. Furthermore, we derived graphs from those tables in order to clearly visualize our results. We found out the presence of both precipitation and humidity increased the soil moisture. Besides the soil type can also drastically influence the soil moisture. For example, our results illustrating the water quantity differed from 18% to 60% depending on the soil type.  (Comenius College, Grades 9-1

Example of Student Research Report

Project Title: Do Satellites Provide Accurate Measurements? 

Project Overview: Last year, we explored local soil moisture levels compared to levels provided by SMAP, a satellite that reads soil moisture throughout the world. SMAP’s readings were not 100% accurate because satellite and local data did not align. This year, we expanded our inquiry by duplicating last year’s data to create comparative year-to-year data to test whether SMAP’s accuracy had improved. Since 2015-2016 data was collected in a drought year, we were excited to compare it to the 2016-2017 non-drought year, enhancing the opportunity to track variances between our data and satellite data.

We used the same methodologies and sites to collect samples as last year. To improve outcome and analysis accuracy, we collected more samples during four of five months. Unfortunately, we collected only one sample during December 2016, whereas we collected four samples during December 2015. Nonetheless, we began collection earlier this year and amassed more data. We calculated monthly averages for comparison to the same month’s data from last year. We also tested the satellite’s accuracy for this year by comparing it to current local data. We noticed increased local soil moisture that correlated with this year’s additional rainfall as well as improved overall satellite data accuracy. (Irving MME Magnet, Grades: 6-8)

Student Poster Project

Research Report

Project Title: SMAP Soil Moisture Study

Shumate Middle School

Grades 6-8

Project Overview: For this project, we decided to study volumetric soil moisture. Shumate Citizen Scientists have taken approximately 1,150 soil moisture measurements during science class over the last few years. This is the first time we have truly analyzed our soil moisture data. The data used in this study was collected during the months of September 2017 through December 2017. We examined three study sites on the north side of the Shumate Middle School campus. For our hypothesis, we believed that we would find a higher volumetric soil moisture average at a study site near a retention pond with a lower elevation. However, our data revealed that the study site furthest away from the retention pond actually had the highest volumetric soil moisture average. We compared our data to two study sites (that were in the same area) from last year (2016 - 2017 school year). The data comparison was unique, to say the least. We believe this report will show that we have some unique soil moisture patterns found on the Shumate Middle School campus. 

Student presentation slide