World Inventory of Soil Emission Potentials (WISE)

Example of WISE-derived soil data (0.5 x 0.5 degree grid)

The WISE project, currently referred to as World Inventory of Soil property Estimates project, and various follow-up activities, has developed homogenized sets of soil data, linked to a spatial data set, relevant for a wide range of environmental studies at global scale - agro-ecological zoning, assessments of crop production, soil vulnerability to pollution, soil carbon stocks and change, and soil gaseous emission potentials. Examples of applications by various user communities may be found here


Current activities

Recent work was aimed at generating a 30x30 arc-sec version (WISE30sec) that considers the updated soil-geographical information of the Harmonised World Soil Database (HWSD v.1.2.1) and taxotransfer (TTR) procedures that draw on statistical analyses of some 20,000 harmonised soil profiles. The TTR procedure considers a 7-layer data model (up to 2 m depth) and 19 soil properties. The selected soil propertiesa are commonly required for agro-ecological zoning, land evaluation, crop growth simulation, modelling of soil gaseous emissions, and analyses of global environmental change at a global level. The list includes: soil drainage class, organic carbon content, total nitrogen, C/N ratio, pH (H2O), CECsoil, CECclay, effective CEC, base saturation, aluminium saturation, calcium carbonate content, gypsum content, exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP), electrical conductivity, particle size distribution (i.e. content of sand, silt and clay), content of coarse fragments (> 2 mm), bulk density, and available water capacity (-33 to -1500 kPa), with uncertainty estimates (mean, std).

The WISE30sec database, with supporting technical documentation, can be downloaded here .


Track record
The WISE project (1991-1996) was implemented by ISRIC for the Dutch National Research Programme on Global Air Pollution and Climate Change (NRP Project 851039); it involved collaboration with numerous institutions and individuals worldwide. Some 1000 profiles from WISE, version 1.0, were used by the Global Soil Task Force, coordinated by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme Data and Information System (IGBP-DIS).

Upon completion of the NRP-project, in 1996, WISE has been maintained and expanded in the context of several externally funded projects. Follow-up activities, with IIASA and FAO (PDF) and IFPRI (PDF), were aimed at deriving revised soil property estimates for the soil units of FAO's (1995) 1:5 million scale Soil Map of the World using taxotransfer procedures. Several GIS data sets (raster) of derived soil properties for the world were prepared, at various resolutions; for an overview see ISRIC Report 2015/01.

Profile data from the WISE soil profile database were also used to fill gaps in primary SOTER databases, using consistent taxotransfer procedures, resulting in so-called SOTWIS databases. The latter were used to populate large portions of the Harmonized World Soil Database (HWSD 2012).

Holdings of the ISRIC-WISE Soil Profile Database, ver. 3.1, covering over 10,000 soil profiles from 149 countries,  are currently being incorporated into WoSIS, the ISRIC World Soil Information Service. 

In 2015, WISE-related activities were embedded in the 'Conventional Soil Mapping' project in view of ongoing developments towards further GSP participation in 2016.


[1991-1996 (NRP project); 1996-2014 (various spin-off projects); 2014-2016 (WISE-related work embedded in 'Conventional Soil Mapping Project')]