Surveys in Geophysics

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 361–399 | Cite as

Imaging Spectroscopy for Soil Mapping and Monitoring

  • S. ChabrillatEmail author
  • E. Ben-Dor
  • J. Cierniewski
  • C. Gomez
  • T. Schmid
  • B. van Wesemael


There is a renewed awareness of the finite nature of the world’s soil resources, growing concern about soil security and significant uncertainties about the carrying capacity of the planet. Regular assessments of soil conditions from local through to global scales are requested, and there is a clear demand for accurate, up-to-date and spatially referenced soil information by the modelling scientific community, farmers and land users, and policy- and decision-makers. Soil and imaging spectroscopy, based on visible–near-infrared and shortwave infrared (400–2500 nm) spectral reflectance, has been shown to be a proven method for the quantitative prediction of key soil surface properties. With the upcoming launch of the next generation of hyperspectral satellite sensors in the next years, a high potential to meet the demand for global soil mapping and monitoring is appearing. In this paper, we briefly review the basic concepts of soil spectroscopy with a special attention to the effects of soil roughness on reflectance and then provide a review of state of the art, achievements and perspectives in soil mapping and monitoring based on imaging spectroscopy from air- and spaceborne sensors. Selected application cases are presented for the modelling of soil organic carbon, mineralogical composition, topsoil water content and characterization of soil crust, soil erosion and soil degradation stages based on airborne and simulated spaceborne imaging spectroscopy data. Further, current challenges, gaps and new directions toward enhanced soil properties modelling are presented. Overall, this paper highlights the potential and limitations of multiscale imaging spectroscopy nowadays for soil mapping and monitoring, and capabilities and requirements of upcoming spaceborne sensors as support for a more informed and sustainable use of our world’s soil resources.


Soil mapping and monitoring Imaging spectroscopy Hyperspectral Soil organic carbon Soil mineralogical composition Surface roughness Soil moisture Vegetation cover Spaceborne instruments 



This paper is an outcome of a Workshop on requirements, capabilities and directions in spaceborne imaging spectroscopy held at the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) in Bern, Switzerland, in November 2016. The support of ISSI is gratefully acknowledged. The EnMAP science preparation program and EnMAP coordination team are gratefully acknowledged without which the ISSI Workshop would not have taken place.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section Remote SensingHelmholtz Center Potsdam GFZ German Research Center for GeosciencesPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Human EnvironmentTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  3. 3.Department of Soil and Remote Sensing Soil ScienceAdam Mickiewicz UniversityPoznanPoland
  4. 4.UMR LISAH (INRA-IRD-SupAgro)IRDMontpellierFrance
  5. 5.Department of EnvironmentCentro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientes y Tecnológicas (CIEMAT)MadridSpain
  6. 6.Georges Lemaître Centre for Earth and Climate Research, Earth and Life InstituteUniversité Catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium

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