Cosmic-ray hydrometeorology

Darin Desilets, Marek G Zreda

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Soil water content can be inferred from subaerial measurements of cosmic-ray neutron intensity. The hydrogen in soil water dominates the moderating power in the land surface environment. Through its ability to moderate and absorb neutrons, hydrogen exerts a strong control on neutron fluxes in the fast to thermal energy range. Cosmic-ray measurements are passive, noninvasive, noncontact, and represent a sample area of tens of hectares and a depth of tens of centimeters. The method has moderate power demands and data processing and transmission requirements, which makes it particularly well suited for long-term monitoring and field campaigns. A promising direction for future research is coupling neutron observations to land surface models and possibly even inverting neutron data to obtain soil properties and evapotranspiration. Furthermore, advances in neutron detection technology, for example, in the area of directionally sensitive neutron detectors (Mascarenhas et al., 2006), have the potential to open new applications and spatial scales for hydrologic measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages4
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameEncyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series
ISSN (Print)1388-4360
ISSN (Electronic)1871-756X

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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