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A method for retrieving high-resolution surface soil moisture from hydros L-band radiometer and Radar observations

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4 Author(s)
Xiwu Zhan ; USDA/ARS Hydrology & Remote Sensing Lab. BARC-West, Beltsville, MD, USA ; P. R. Houser ; J. P. Walker ; W. T. Crow

NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder Hydrospheric States (Hydros) mission will provide the first global scale space-borne observations of Earth's soil moisture using both L-band microwave radiometer and radar technologies. In preparation for the Hydros mission, an observation system simulation experiment (OSSE) has been conducted. As a part of this OSSE, the potential for retrieving useful surface soil moisture at spatial resolutions of 9 and 3 km was explored. The approach involved optimally merging relatively accurate 36-km radiometer brightness temperature and relatively noisy 3-km radar backscatter cross section observations using a Bayesian method. Based on the Hydros OSSE data sets with low and high noises added to the simulated observations or model parameters, the Bayesian method performed better than direct inversion of either the brightness temperature or radar backscatter observations alone. The root-mean-square errors of 9-km soil moisture retrievals from the Bayesian merging method were reduced by 0.5 %vol/vol and 1.4 %vol/vol from the errors of direct radar inversions for the entire OSSE domain of all 34 consecutive days for the low and high noise data sets, respectively. Improvement in soil moisture estimates using the Bayesian merging method over the direct inversions of radar or radiometer data were even more significant for soil moisture retrieval at 3-km resolution. However, to address the representativeness of these results at the global and multiyear scales, further performance comparison studies are needed, particularly with actual field data.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:44 ,  Issue: 6 )