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Publications in Scientific Journals:

A. Xaver, L. Zappa, G. Rab, I. Pfeil, M. Vreugdenhil, D. Hemment, W. Dorigo:
"Evaluating the suitability of the consumer low-cost Parrot Flower Power soil moisture sensor for scientific environmental applications";
Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems, 9 (2020), 1; 117 - 139.



English abstract:
Citizen science, scientific work and data collection conducted by or with non-experts, is rapidly growing. Although the potential of citizen science activities to generate enormous amounts of data otherwise not feasible is widely recognized, the obtained data are often treated with caution and scepticism. Their quality and reliability is not fully trusted since they are obtained by non-experts using low-cost instruments or scientifically non-verified methods. In this study, we evaluate the performance of Parrot's Flower Power soil moisture sensor used within the European citizen science project the GROW Observatory (GROW; https://growobservatory.org, last access: 30 March 2020). The aim of GROW is to enable scientists to validate satellite-based soil moisture products at an unprecedented high spatial resolution through crowdsourced data. To this end, it has mobilized thousands of citizens across Europe in science and climate actions, including hundreds who have been empowered to monitor soil moisture and other environmental variables within 24 high-density clusters around Europe covering different climate and soil conditions. Clearly, to serve as reference dataset, the quality of ground observations is crucial, especially if obtained from low-cost sensors. To investigate the accuracy of such measurements, the Flower Power sensors were evaluated in the lab and field. For the field trials, they were installed alongside professional soil moisture probes in the Hydrological Open Air Laboratory (HOAL) in Petzenkirchen, Austria. We assessed the skill of the low-cost sensors against the professional probes using various methods. Apart from common statistical metrics like correlation, bias, and root-mean-square difference, we investigated and compared the temporal stability, soil moisture memory, and the flagging statistics based on the International Soil Moisture Network (ISMN) quality indicators. We found a low intersensor variation in the lab and a high temporal agreement with the professional sensors in the field. The results of soil moisture memory and the ISMN quality flags analysis are in a comparable range for the low-cost and professional probes; only the temporal stability analysis shows a contrasting outcome. We demonstrate that low-cost sensors can be used to generate a dataset valuable for environmental monitoring and satellite validation and thus provide the basis for citizen-based soil moisture science.


"Official" electronic version of the publication (accessed through its Digital Object Identifier - DOI)
http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/gi-9-117-2020


Created from the Publication Database of the Vienna University of Technology.