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Combined Passive and Active Microwave Observations of Soil Moisture During CLASIC

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6 Author(s)
Rajat Bindlish ; U.S. Dept. of Agric., Sci. Syst. & Applic. Inc., Beltsville, MD, USA ; Thomas Jackson ; Ruijing Sun ; Michael Cosh
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An important research direction in advancing higher spatial resolution and better accuracy in soil moisture remote sensing is the integration of active and passive microwave observations. In an effort to address this objective, an airborne instrument, the passive/active L-band sensor (PALS), was flown over two watersheds as part of the cloud and land surface interaction campaign (CLASIC) conducted in Oklahoma in 2007. Eleven flights were conducted over each watershed during the field campaign. Extensive ground observations (soil moisture, soil temperature, and vegetation) were made concurrent with the PALS measurements. Extremely wet conditions were encountered. As expected from previous research, the radiometer-based retrievals were better than the radar retrievals. The standard error of estimates (SEEs) of the retrieved soil moisture using only the PALS radiometer data were 0.048 m3/m3 for Fort Cobb (FC) and 0.067 m3/m3 for the Little Washita (LW) watershed. These errors were higher than typically observed, which is likely the result of the unusually high soil moisture and standing water conditions. The radar-only-based retrieval SEEs were 0.092 m3/m3 for FC and 0.079 m3/ m3 for LW. Radar retrievals in the FC domain were particularly poor due to the high vegetation water content of the agricultural fields. These results indicate the potential for estimating soil moisture for low-vegetation water content domains from radar observations using a simple vegetation model. Results also showed the compatibility between passive and active microwave observations and the potential for combining the two approaches.

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IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters  (Volume:6 ,  Issue: 4 )