Cosmos-UK Soil Moisture (UKCEH)

Agriculture Exploration Standard Python

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To load and visualise daily hydrometeorological and soil data from the 2013-2019 public COSMOS-UK dataset.

Sensor description

Since 2013 the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) has established the world’s most spatially dense national network of cosmic-ray neutron sensors (CRNSs) to monitor soil moisture across the UK. The Cosmic-ray Soil Moisture Observing System for the UK (COSMOS-UK) delivers field-scale soil water volumetric content (VWC) measurements for around 50 sites in near-real time. In addition to measuring field-scale (or local) soil moisture, the network collects a large number of hydrometeorological and soil data variables, including VWC measured by point-scale (or site) soil moisture sensors.

This notebook explores a subset of 4 out of 51 stations available in the public COSMOS-UK dataset. These stations represent the first sites to prototype COSMOS sensors in the UK, see further details in Evans et al. (2016) and they are situated in human-intervened areas (grassland and cropland), except for one in a woodland land cover site.

The media below, available in the UKCEH YouTube channel, summarises the concept of cosmic-ray neutron sensors and how they provide non-invasive soil moisture measurments at field scale.


  • Fetch COSMOS-UK dataset files through intake.

  • Inspect the available metadata with information about the sites, their locations and other site-specific attributes.

  • Explore relationships between daily mean soil moisture and potential evapotranspiration derived from the meteorological measurements at the site.

  • Analyse yearly change of daily mean soil moisture observations.

  • Compare local and site soil moisture measurements at daily resolution.



  • Alejandro Coca-Castro (author), The Alan Turing Institute, @acocac

  • Doran Khamis (reviewer), UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, @dorankhamis

  • Matt Fry (reviewer), UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, @mattfry-ceh

Dataset originator/creator

  • UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (creator)

  • Natural Environment Research Council (support)

Dataset reference and documentation

  • S. Stanley, V. Antoniou, A. Askquith-Ellis, L.A. Ball, E.S. Bennett, J.R. Blake, D.B. Boorman, M. Brooks, M. Clarke, H.M. Cooper, N. Cowan, A. Cumming, J.G. Evans, P. Farrand, M. Fry, O.E. Hitt, W.D. Lord, R. Morrison, G.V. Nash, D. Rylett, P.M. Scarlett, O.D. Swain, M. Szczykulska, J.L. Thornton, E.J. Trill, A.C. Warwick, and B. Winterbourn. Daily and sub-daily hydrometeorological and soil data (2013-2019) [cosmos-uk]. 2021. URL:, doi:10.5285/b5c190e4-e35d-40ea-8fbe-598da03a1185.

Further references

  • Jonathan G. Evans, H. C. Ward, J. R. Blake, E. J. Hewitt, R. Morrison, M. Fry, L. A. Ball, L. C. Doughty, J. W. Libre, O. E. Hitt, D. Rylett, R. J. Ellis, A. C. Warwick, M. Brooks, M. A. Parkes, G. M.H. Wright, A. C. Singer, D. B. Boorman, and A. Jenkins. Soil water content in southern england derived from a cosmic-ray soil moisture observing system – cosmos-uk. Hydrological Processes, 30:4987–4999, 12 2016. doi:10.1002/hyp.10929.

  • M. Zreda, W. J. Shuttleworth, X. Zeng, C. Zweck, D. Desilets, T. Franz, and R. Rosolem. Cosmos: the cosmic-ray soil moisture observing system. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 16(11):4079–4099, 2012. URL:, doi:10.5194/hess-16-4079-2012.


Data from COSMOS-UK up to the end of 2019 are available for download from the UKCEH Environmental Information Data Centre (EIDC). The data are accompanied by documentation that describes the site-specific instrumentation, data and processing including quality control. The dataset is available for download under the terms of the Open Government Licence.

COSMOS-UK work was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council award number NE/R016429/1 as part of the UK-SCAPE programme delivering National Capability.

Load libraries

import os
import pandas as pd
import intake
import holoviews as hv
import panel as pn
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from bokeh.models.formatters import DatetimeTickFormatter
from datetime import datetime

import hvplot.pandas
import hvplot.xarray  # noqa

import pooch

import warnings

pd.options.display.max_columns = 10