Long-term economic, social, and environmental impacts

The project results will have a wider impact on companies operating in the fields of hydro-meteorological warnings, water resources management, flood control, agriculture, and hydro-power plants. These companies provide services based on the monitoring of hydro-meteorological variables (precipitation, flow rate, evaporation, soil moisture etc.) and the processing of the related measurements to support the final users’ decisions. The use of calibrated soil moisture type instruments, in conjunction with the other meteorological observables, shall improve the management capabilities of the users since decisions would be based on traceable measurements, and enable more comparable data in space and time.

Agricultural and farming production will benefit from the project in terms of optimisation of irrigation plans to achieve higher crop yields while reducing the water waste and associated costs (energy and labour), with increased water availability. A positive impact on hydro-meteorological agencies and agro-meteorology is expected in reduction in maintenance costs for automated networks.

With more reliable soil moisture data it will be possible to promptly inform the weather services, local agro‑meteorology consortia and users, about the risk of drought and flood. The accuracy of such information is vital for the issuing of effective and timely warnings. This main economic impact would therefore be two-fold: an increase in trustworthy and timelier irrigation plans, with direct benefits on agricultural and farming production (such as an increase in crop yields) and reduction of water waste for irrigation and hence increased water availability.

Based on a general lack of traceability and data quality in historical observation, the WMO Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) is preparing the creation of the GCOS Surface Reference Network (GSRN). Among the Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) prescribed by GSRN, soil moisture is one of the fundamental observed quantities for a reference site. The non‑contact systems (based on cosmic-ray neutron sensing, CRNS), metrologically established in this project, will offer more reliable data and are nearly immune to maintenance and mechanical drifts and shocks, thus becoming a more robust candidate for long-term data series recording. In addition, this project is expected to have a substantial impact in climate science through the GCOS and other similar initiatives.