Logo International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change


No. 04 – July 2021

07 July 2021

How moist is the earth's soil? Germany’s International Water Centre (ICWRGC) and Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG) take over the permanent operation of the global soil moisture network ISMN from TU Wien

How moist is the earth's soil? This is an important question - especially for agriculture, the better understanding of the global and regional water cycle and water management, and also for climate research, forecasting weather, flood or drought disasters. All over the world, there are highly different collections of data on this. However, unless they are processed, so that they can be compared and merged, they are of little use.
In order to process soil moisture data globally, the International Soil Moisture Network (ISMN) has been developed with project-based money by the European Space Agency (ESA) at the Vienna University of Technology in 2009. Since then, the TU Wien has been very successful and has become an important international data source for applied research and science.

However, the ISMN is not the only quasi-operational data initiative financed by research funds that is unable to provide sustainable operational services in the long run. But as regards soil moisture, this issue has now been solved and the ISMN is being elevated to a new institutional level. The German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) confirmed to fund this important network and to establish its permanent operation with ICWRGC and BfG. This is an example how innovative and applied research products are being handed over to sustainable operation. The ICWRGC will lead the network with the technical and scientific backup of the BfG and will be the contact point for providers and users.

This means that all developed ISMN operations are going to be transferred to BfG and ICWRGC in Koblenz, Germany under ongoing service with a gradual hand-over and full completion by the end of next year 2022, at the latest. After the completion of the transfer by the end of 2022, TU Wien will accompany operation and scientific work at ICWRGC and BfG with their scientific expertise as needed.

The planning for the transfer has already officially started. It is of greatest interest that the existing data providers further support this network for future-oriented solutions in the area of freshwater resource management and the achievement of the UN Sustainability Goals, especially SDG 6 and the related ones. In this context, an advanced involvement of WMO and FAO is being pursued.

Also in the future, ISMN will continue to support the efforts of the Global Energy and Water Exchanges Project (GEWEX), the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), the Global Climate Observing System - Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate (GCOS-TOPC), the Group of Earth Observation (GEO), and the Global Terrestrial Network on Hydrology (GTN-H). In doing so, the intellectual property rights provisions of the respective data providers will of course continue to be respected and implemented. The aim is to improve our common understanding of soil moisture in the context of available freshwater resources and in the hydrological cycle.

In this context, ICWRGC and BfG have jointly started the recruitment with an open call for five permanent full-time positions with the deadline of 29 July 2021.

If you have questions regarding the transfer, please do not hesitate to contact icwrgc@bafg.de.

Four (out of five) positions have already been advertised - with an application deadline of July 29, 2021.




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International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change (ICWRGC)
UNESCO Category 2 Centre
Secretariat German IHP/HWRP National Committee
Federal Institute of Hydrology
P.O. Box 200253 | 56002 Koblenz | Germany

Phone: +49 (0)261 1306 5435
E-Mail: icwrgc@bafg.de