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Penetration depth as a DInSAR observable and proxy for soil moisture

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2 Author(s)
M. Nolan ; Water & Environ. Res. Center, Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks, AK, USA ; D. R. Fatland

We use prior theory and experimental results to construct a quantitative relationship between soil moisture and the penetration depth of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) microwaves at L-, C-, and X-bands. This relationship is nonlinear and indicates that a change of 5% volumetric water content (VWC) can cause between 1 and 50 mm of change in C-band penetration depth depending on initial VWC. Because these depths are within the range of differential interferogram SAR (DInSAR) measurement capability, penetration depth may be a viable proxy for measuring soil moisture. DInSAR is unlikely to detect a measurable change in penetration depth above 30% VWC, though certain clay rich soils may continue to cause surface deformation above that level. The possibility of using clay swelling as a proxy for soil moisture was found to be less feasible than penetration depth. Soil moisture may also be a significant, and previously unrecognized, source of noise in the measurement of subtle deformation signals or the creation of digital elevation models using repeat-pass DInSAR.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:41 ,  Issue: 3 )