27 Mar 2024
 | 27 Mar 2024
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Providing quality-assessed and standardised soil data to support global mapping and modelling (WoSIS snapshot 2023)

Niels Hindrik Batjes, Luis Calisto, and Luis Moreira de Sousa

Abstract. Snapshots derived from the World Soil Information Service (WoSIS) are served freely to the international community. These static datasets provide quality-assessed and standardised soil profile data that can be used to support digital soil mapping and environmental applications at broad scale levels. Since the release of the preceding snapshot in 2019, new ETL (Extract, Load, Transform) procedures for screening, ingesting and standardising disparate source data have been developed. In conjunction with this, the WoSIS data model was overhauled making it compatible with the ISO 28258 and Observations and Measurements (O&M) domain models. Additional procedures for querying, serving, and downloading the publicly available standardised data have been implemented using open software (e.g. GraphQL API). Following up on a short discussion of these methodological developments we discuss the structure and content of the “WoSIS 2023-snapshot”. A range of new soil datasets was shared with us, registered in the ISRIC World Data Centre for Soils (WDC-Soils) data repository, and subsequently processed in accordance with the licences specified by the data providers. An important effort has been the processing of forest soil data collated in the framework of the EU-HoliSoils project. We paid special attention to the standardisation of soil property definitions, description of the soil analytical procedures, and standardisation of the units of measurement. The “2023 snapshot” considers the following soil chemical properties (total carbon, organic carbon, inorganic carbon (total carbonate equivalent), total nitrogen, phosphorus (extractable-P, total-P, and P-retention), soil pH, cation exchange capacity, and electrical conductivity) and physical properties (soil texture (sand, silt, and clay), bulk density, coarse fragments, and water retention), grouped according to analytical procedures that are operationally comparable. Method options are defined for each analytical procedure (e.g. pH measured in water, KCl or CaCl2 solution, molarity of the solution, and soil/solution ratio). For each profile we also provide the original soil classification (i.e. FAO, WRB and USDA system with their version) and pedological horizon designations as far as these have been specified in the source databases. Three measures for “fitness-for-intended-use” are provided to facilitate informed data use: a) positional uncertainty of the profile’s site location, b) possible uncertainty associated with the operationally defined analytical procedures, and c) date of sampling. The most recent (i.e. dynamic) dataset, called wosis_latest, is freely accessible via various webservices. To permit consistent referencing and citation we also provide a static snapshot (in casu, December 2023). This snapshot comprises quality-assessed and standardised data for 228 k geo-referenced profiles. The data come from 174 countries and represent more than 900 k soil layers (or horizons) and over 6 million records. The number of measurements for each soil property vary (greatly) between profiles and with depth, this generally depending on the objectives of the initial soil sampling programmes. In the coming years, we aim to gradually fill gaps in the geographic distribution of the profiles, as well as in the soil observations themselves, this subject to the sharing of a wider selection of “public” soil data by prospective data contributors. The WoSIS 2023-snapshot is archived and freely available at (Calisto et al., 2023).

Niels Hindrik Batjes, Luis Calisto, and Luis Moreira de Sousa

Status: open (until 18 May 2024)

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Niels Hindrik Batjes, Luis Calisto, and Luis Moreira de Sousa

Data sets

Standardised soil profile data for the world (WoSIS, December snapshot) [Dataset] Luis Calisto, Luis M. de Sousa, and Niels H. Batjes

Niels Hindrik Batjes, Luis Calisto, and Luis Moreira de Sousa


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Short summary
Soils are an important provider of ecosystem services. This dataset provides quality-assessed and standardised soil data to support digital soil mapping and environmental applications at a broad scale. The underpinning soil profiles were shared by a wide range of data providers. Special attention was paid to the standardisation of soil property definitions, analytical method descriptions and property values. We present three measures to assess “fitness-for-intended-use” of the standardised data.