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Observations of soil moisture using a passive and active low-frequency microwave airborne sensor during SGP99

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8 Author(s)
E. G. Njoku ; Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA, USA ; W. J. Wilson ; S. H. Yueh ; S. J. Dinardo
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Data were acquired by the Passive and Active L- and S-band airborne sensor (PALS) during the 1999 Southern Great Plains (SGP99) experiment in Oklahoma to study remote sensing of soil moisture in vegetated terrain using low-frequency microwave radiometer and radar measurements. The PALS instrument measures radiometric brightness temperature and radar backscatter at L- and S-band frequencies with multiple polarizations and approximately equal spatial resolutions. The data acquired during SGP99 provide information on the sensitivities of multichannel low-frequency passive and active measurements to soil moisture for vegetation conditions including bare, pasture, and crop surface cover with field-averaged vegetation water contents mainly in the 0-2.5 kg m-2 range. Precipitation occurring during the experiment provided an opportunity to observe wetting and drying surface conditions. Good correlations with soil moisture were observed in the radiometric channels. The 1.41-GHz horizontal-polarization channel showed the greatest sensitivity to soil moisture over the range of vegetation observed. For the fields sampled, a radiometric soil moisture retrieval accuracy of 2.3% volumetric was obtained. The radar channels showed significant correlation with soil moisture for some individual fields, with greatest sensitivity at 1.26-GHz vertical copolarized channel. However, variability in vegetation cover degraded the radar correlations for the combined field data. Images generated from data collected on a sequence of flight lines over the watershed region showed similar patterns of soil moisture change in the radiometer and radar responses. This indicates that under vegetated conditions for which soil moisture estimates may not be feasible using current radar algorithms, the radar measurements nevertheless show a response to soil moisture change, and they can provide useful information on the spatial and temporal variability of soil moisture. An illustration of the change detection approach is given.

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IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:40 ,  Issue: 12 )