Global mapping of volumetric water retention at 100, 330 and 15 000 cm suction using the WoSIS database

Maria Eliza Turek*, Laura Poggio, Niels H. Batjes, Robson André Armindo, Quirijn de Jong van Lier, Luis de Sousa, Gerard B.M. Heuvelink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Present global maps of soil water retention (SWR) are mostly derived from pedotransfer functions (PTFs) applied to maps of other basic soil properties. As an alternative, ‘point-based’ mapping of soil water content can improve global soil data availability and quality. We developed point-based global maps with estimated uncertainty of the volumetric SWR at 100, 330 and 15 000 cm suction using measured SWR data extracted from the WoSIS Soil Profile Database together with data estimated by a random forest PTF (PTF-RF). The point data was combined with around 200 environmental covariates describing vegetation, terrain morphology, climate, geology, and hydrology using DSM. In total, we used 7292, 33 192 and 42 016 SWR point observations at 100, 330 and 15 000 cm, respectively, and complemented the dataset with 436 108 estimated values at each suction. Tenfold cross-validation yielded a Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) of 6.380, 7.112 and 6.485 10−2cm3cm−3, and a Model Efficiency Coefficient (MEC) of 0.430, 0.386, and 0.471, respectively, for 100, 330 and 15 000 cm. The results were also compared to three published global maps of SWR to evaluate differences between point-based and map-based mapping approaches. Point-based mapping performed better than the three map-based mapping approaches for 330 and 15 000 cm, while for 100 cm results were similar, possibly due to the limited number of SWR observations for 100 cm. Major sources or uncertainty identified included the geographical clustering of the data and the limitation of the covariates to represent the naturally high variation of SWR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-239
JournalInternational Soil and Water Conservation Research
Issue number2
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Digital soil mapping
  • Pedometrics
  • Soil hydraulic properties
  • SoilGrids


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