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154,-8.851301 154,-44.157688 111.904297,-44.157688 111.904297,-8.851301 154,-8.851301

TERN/3567cff4-4a73-439e-a1b4-d30caf3c8959 21771

CosmOz - The Australian Cosmic-ray Soil Moisture Sensor Network


The Australian cosmic-ray soil moisture monitoring network was first established in 2010 to provide Australian and global researchers with spatially distributed intermediate scale soil moisture observations. A cosmic-ray sensor (CRS) provides continuous estimates of soil moisture over an area of approximately 30 hectares by measuring naturally generated fast neutrons (energy 10–1000 eV) that are produced by cosmic rays passing through the Earth’s atmosphere. The neutron intensity above the land surface is inversely correlated with soil moisture as it responds to the hydrogen contained in the soil and to a lesser degree to plant and soil carbon compounds. The cosmic-ray technique is also passive, non-contact, and is largely insensitive to bulk density, surface roughness, the physical state of water, and soil texture. The scale of CRS measurements fills the void between point scale sensor measurements and large scale satellite observations. The depth of measurements varies with the moisture content of the soil but is typically between 10-30 cm. The depth of observations is reported as ‘effective depth’.
The CosmOz network is expanding as new sensors are added over time. The initial network was funded by CSIRO Land and Water but more recently TERN has funded work to maintain the network add new sensors and deliver data more efficiently. The standard CRS installation includes; a cosmic-ray neutron tube, a rain gauge (2m high), temperature and humidity sensors, and an atmospheric pressure sensor. Measures of all parameters are reported at an hourly interval. Each CRS requires an in-field calibration across the footprint of measurements to convert neutron counts to soil moisture content. The calibration includes collection of soil samples for bulk density, lattice water content and soil organic carbon.
The Australia CosmOz network consists of 19 stations. The extent of the network and available data can be seen at the CosmOz network web page: The data is also accessible from the TERN Cosmoz REST API.
The calibration and correction procedures used by the network are described by Hawdon et al. 2014 .

This work was jointly funded by the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN), an Australian Government National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) project, and the Queensland Government Research Infrastructure Co-investment Fund (RICF).

The purpose of the data from the CosmOz network is to provide long-term, intermediate-scale soil moisture estimates at an hourly time-interval across different environments in Australia.

Temporal coverage

From 2011-10-28


  • Date modified


Citation information

How to cite this collection:

McJannet, D. , Stenson, M. , Sommer, A. , Hawdon, A. (2021): CosmOz - The Australian Cosmic-ray Soil Moisture Sensor Network. Version 1.0.0. Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN). (Dataset).

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Rights and Licensing

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence

Please cite this paper if using the data: Hawdon, A, McJannet, D, & Wallace, J 2014, Calibration and correction procedures for cosmic-ray neutron soil moisture probes located across Australia. Water Resources Research, Vol. 50, pp.5029-5043. doi:10.1002/2013wr015138