GW4 WSA Webinar Series 2021: What does the cosmos tell you about soil hydrology?

23 April 2021, 2.30 PM - 23 April 2021, 3.30 PM

Dr Rafael Rosolem


The GW4 WSA is running a weekly webinar series for the academic year 2020-2021. The series features a guest speaker each week and is aimed at stimulating discussion and knowledge exchange between academics, researchers, water professionals and students.
This talk forms part of the University of Bristol’s Engineering Research Showcase
The water stored in soils represents a small compartment of the whole hydrological cycle. Yet, it is one of the key factors controlling hydrometeorological processes at the land surface. For example, soil moisture controls the partitioning of rainfall into evapotranspiration, runoff or infiltration, and relates to our ability in monitoring and predicting floods and droughts. Typically, soil moisture can be estimated with two very different approaches: either with localized point-scale (few centimeters) measurements or with satellite remote sensing products covering a much larger area (many kilometers). With the recent effort to move towards hyper-resolution global land surface and hydrological aimed at (sub)kilometer scale, this presents a challenge as neither methodology estimates soil moisture at the scale of interest. However, in the last decade, the development of cosmic-ray neutron sensing technology has allowed for soil moisture to be accurately estimated at unprecedented sub-kilometer scales, on the order of hundreds of meters with a single sensor. Since the early 2010s, this technology has evolved and been continuously applied globally with potentially hundreds of cosmic-ray neutron sensors located across a wide range of biomes. This seminar is aimed at introducing this technology to a wider audience, showing examples of applications in the field and in combination with numerical models, as well as highlighting potential challenges and opportunities ahead.

Dr Rafael Rosolem graduated with a BSc in Meteorology and MSc in Agricultural Systems Ecology, both at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. He received a PhD degree from the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona before joining the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Bristol in 2013. Dr Rosolem’s work focuses on improving the representation of hydrological processes in land surface and hydrological models using experimental data from different regions of the world, particularly from developing countries where data access is limited. He has extensively worked in the Amazon region in Brazil, using flux towers to better inform numerical models, and he has taken part of the pioneer COSMOS project which established the first national network of novel cosmic-ray neutron sensors across continental USA. More recently, Dr Rosolem’s research has also focused on the African continent and in the UK.

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