GMSM - Global Monitoring of Soil Moisture for Water Hazards Assessment

The overall goal of the GMSM project is to advance the use of soil moisture services based on METOP ASCAT and complementary satellite systems, most importantly SMOS and ENVISAT ASAR, by extending existing products developed at I.P.F. TU Vienna to Africa and Australia, for which extensive calibration and validation activities will be carried out and novel water hazards applications will be developed by the project consortium.

Short Description

Soil moisture – the water stored in soil within reach of the plants – is a crucial parameter for a large number of applications. Near- real-time soil moisture information is, amongst others, important for weather forecasting, flood and drought monitoring, and civil protection. Long-term soil moisture time series are important for improving our understanding of impacts of global warming on water resources, carbon balance, ecology and epidemiology.

Water hazards, as understood here, arise due to the excess or lack of water and harm society in multiple ways. Excessive rainfall and/or rapid snowmelt may quickly saturate the soil in a catchment area, leading to water logging, surface runoff and flooding. If sustained for longer periods, water excess may affect plant growth and lead to the proliferation of water-borne diseases.

A prolonged lack of rainfall depletes the soil water reservoir leading to drought conditions which may affect the productivity of agricultural areas and natural ecosystems, limit the availability of fresh water for humans and industry, and increase the risk of fires. Multi-year droughts may lead to land degradation and desertification.

Within the GMSM project the following application-oriented topics will be addressed:

  • Assimilation of ASCAT soil moisture data in a regional numerical weather prediction (NWP) model
  • Improve regional scale crop growth and yield monitoring methods
  • Improve hydrologic model predictions
  • Modelling the dynamics of mosquito-borne infectious diseases
  • Validate the land surface module of regional climate models
  • Improve methods for desertification monitoring
  • Integration with population data for improved determination of societal risks

The project complements existing European GMES-related programmes, most importantly EUMETSAT’s Product Processing Facility, the Hydrology SAF, the GMES project GEOLAND II, and ESA TIGER Activities.

Project Partners


Vienna University of Technology, Institute of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing - Prof. Wolfgang Wagner


  • Vienna University of Technology, Institute of Hydraulic and Water Resources Engineering (I.W.I.) - Prof. Günter Blöschl
  • Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG), Department of Remote Sensing, Numerical Weather, Prediction Department - Alexander Jann
  • University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Institute of Meteorology - Prof. Joseph Eitzinger
  • University of Veterinary Medicine, Biometeorology and Mathematical Epidemiology Group - Prof. Franz Rubel
  • AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Division of Systems Research - Klaus Steinnocher
  • GeoVille Information Systems Group GmbH - Christian Hoffmann
  • Paris Lodron University Salzburg, Centre for Geoinformatics - Peter Zeil

Contact Address

Vienna University of Technology - Institute of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
Prof. Wolfgang Wagner
Gusshausstraße 27-29
A-1040 Vienna
Tel.: +43 (1) 58801 12225
Fax: +43 (1) 58801 12299