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This paper presents a retrieval algorithm that estimates spatial and temporal distribution of volumetric soil moisture content, at an approximate depth of 5 cm, using multitemporal ENVISAT Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) alternating polarization images, acquired at low incidence angles (i.e., from 15° to 31°). The algorithm appropriately assimilates a priori information on soil moisture content and surface roughness in order to constrain the inversion of theoretical direct models, such as the integral equation method model and the geometric optics model. The a priori information on soil moisture content is obtained through simple lumped water balance models, whereas that on soil roughness is derived by means of an empirical approach. To update prior estimates of surface parameters, when no reliable a priori information is available, a technique based solely on the use of multitemporal SAR information is proposed. The developed retrieval algorithm is assessed on the Matera site (Italy) where multitemporal ground and ASAR data were simultaneously acquired in 2003. Simulated and experimental results indicate the possibility of attaining an accuracy of approximately 5% in the retrieved volumetric soil moisture content, provided that sufficiently accurate a priori information on surface parameters (i.e., within 20% of their whole variability range) is available. As an example, multitemporal soil moisture maps at watershed scale, characterized by a spatial resolution of approximately 150 m, are derived and illustrated in the paper.
Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:44 , Issue: 4 )
Date of Publication: April 2006