A Comparison, Validation, and Evaluation of the S-world Global Soil Property Database

Jetse J. Stoorvogel*, Vera L. Mulder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Despite the increased usage of global soil property maps, a proper review of the maps rarely takes place. This study aims to explore the options for such a review with an application for the S-World global soil property database. Global soil organic carbon (SOC) and clay content maps from S-World were studied at two spatial resolutions in three steps. First, a comparative analysis with an ensemble of seven datasets derived from five other global soil databases was done. Second, a validation of S-World was done with independent soil observations from the WoSIS soil profile database. Third, a methodological evaluation of S-world took place by looking at the variation of soil properties per soil type and short distance variability. In the comparative analysis, S-World and the ensemble of other maps show similar spatial patterns. However, the ensemble locally shows large discrepancies (e.g., in boreal regions where typically SOC contents are high and the sampling density is low). Overall, the results show that S-World is not deviating strongly from the model ensemble (91% of the area falls within a 1.5% SOC range in the topsoil). The validation with the WoSIS database showed that S-World was able to capture a large part of the variation (with, e.g., a root mean square difference of 1.7% for SOC in the topsoil and a mean difference of 1.2%). Finally, the methodological evaluation revealed that estimates of the ranges of soil properties for the different soil types can be improved by using the larger WoSIS database. It is concluded that the review through the comparison, validation, and evaluation provides a good overview of the strengths and the weaknesses of S-World. The three approaches to review the database each provide specific insights regarding the quality of the database. Specific evaluation criteria for an application will determine whether S-World is a suitable soil database for use in global environmental studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number544
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Ensemble analysis
  • Global soil map
  • Soil carbon
  • Soil texture


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