Mapping Soil Moisture at a Regional Scale Using Integrated Remote Sensing, GIS, and Radar Precipitation: A Comparative Study

Shanon M. Connelly

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Geography, College of Arts and Sciences, University of South Florida St. Petersburg


This research attempts to develop a methodology to estimate soil moisture content from current weather station radar data (NEXRAD or Next-Generation Radar), a network of 159 high-resolution Doppler weather radars operated by the National Weather Service (NWS). The overall goal of the experiment design is to establish a hybrid methodology that will combine Geographic Information System (GIS) with mass-balance methods and pedotransfer functions (PTF) with information technology (such as remote sensing and real-time Stage III NEXRAD-WSR-88D data) to create accurate soil moisture maps at spatial and temporal scales higher than current methodologies. Accurate soil moisture maps will drastically affect agriculture procedures, surface water management, and climate models. xii The expected outcome of this project is a method that can be refined into an integrated tool that can produce the most accurate soil moisture maps of an area by using localized data to calculate soil moisture with improved spatial resolution on a regional scale. The integrated tool then can be used in future modeling of soil moisture in other areas to generate near real-time soil moisture maps that are easily updated, readily accessible, and affordable.