Development of Hierarchical Ensemble Model and Estimates of Soil Water Retention With Global Coverage

Yonggen Zhang, Marcel G. Schaap, Zhongwang Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Correct quantification of mass and energy exchange processes between land surface and atmosphere requires an accurate description of unsaturated soil hydraulic properties. Soil pedotransfer functions (PTFs) have been widely used to predict soil hydraulic parameters. Here, 13 PTFs were grouped according to input data requirements and evaluated against a well-documented database (National Cooperative Soil Survey Characterization [NCSS]) covering the continental United States (87.7% of data) and other regions of the globe (12.3% of data). Weighted ensembles were shown to have improved performance over individual PTFs in terms of evaluation criteria. Validation of moisture content estimated from the ensemble models against observations showed promising results. Global maps of soil water retention data from the ensemble models as well as their uncertainty were provided. Our full 13-member ensemble model provides more accurate estimates than PTFs that are currently being used in Earth system models, which may, therefore, provide improved water fluxes and reduce uncertainty of the estimations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020GL088819
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 16 2020


  • ensemble
  • global
  • hydraulic properties
  • modeling
  • soil
  • water retention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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