A Cloud-Based System for High-Resolution Soil Moisture Monitoring over Austria

Short Description

Starting point / motivation

Soil moisture is a pivotal variable in the coupled water-, energy-, and carbon cycles, and is hence of high interest to a wide range of applications. Both public- and private organisations need soil moisture data to improve their services, yet the spatio-temporal resolution of operationally available soil moisture data has so far not met the requirements of many public-sector and commercial applications.

Contents and goals

Thanks to three technological innovations, this limitation can be overcome:

  • Firstly, satellite data with high spatio-temporal sampling have become operationally available, complementing the capabilities of meteorological satellites.
  • Secondly, advances in data integration allow merging multiple satellite- and ground-based observations in advanced modelling frameworks.
  • Finally yet importantly, it has become a practical reality to bring together large and diverse data sets with computationally demanding models on high-performance cloud computing platforms.

The BMon (short for “Bodenfeuchte-Monitor”) project builds upon these three major innovations where the objective is to develop a cloud-based system for near-real-time monitoring of soil moisture conditions over Austria at high spatio-temporal sampling (twice daily at 100 m sampling).


The system will ingest Copernicus and EUMETSAT data, estimate soil moisture from Sentinel-1 and ASCAT, and integrate the satellite data with different land surface models to derive optimum soil moisture estimates at 100m.

The system will be setup in a modular fashion on a cloud platform, which will guarantee a seamless integration of system components. In view of the diverse application domains addressed by this project, three different land surface models (hydrology, agronomy, meteorology) will be used for assimilating the satellite data. The model outputs and satellite data will be integrated by calculating ensemble statistics that are assumed to yield optimum estimates of the soil moisture status and its uncertainty.

The soil moisture output will be compared to in situ soil moisture data and other ground observations known to be closely related to soil moisture (precipitation, runoff, water table, vegetation status, crop yields).

Expected results

The proposed project brings together industrial and scientific partners and government agencies to develop an unparalleled high-resolution soil moisture monitoring system for Austria. Due to the setup on a cloud platform with global satellite data holdings, a transfer of system components to other regions is possible and will be demonstrated for Mali.

Ten public-sector (national and international) and four commercial users (from Switzerland, Finland, United Kingdom) – who all have an interest in operationalising relevant system components in- and outside Austria – are closely involved in the project.

Most importantly, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (BMLFUW) has played a fundamental role by having defined the system requirements, guiding the project setup and being directly involved in the system development as project partner. Two BMon consortium members (ms.GIS and IAEA) are new to the ASAP programme.

Project Partners


Vienna University of Technology - Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation

Project partner

  • BOKU - University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Institute of Meteorology
  • Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management
  • Federal Ministry of Defence and Sports
  • EODC Earth Observation Data Centre GmbH
  • ms.gis
  • Vienna University of Technology Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Engineering Hydrology
  • Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics

Contact Address

Vienna University of Technology
Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation
Univ.Prof. Wolfgang Wagner
Wiedner Hauptstraße 8-10/E120.1
A-1040 Vienna