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On the Retrieval of Soil Moisture in Wheat Fields From L-Band SAR Based on Water Cloud Modeling, the IEM, and Effective Roughness Parameters

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2 Author(s)
Hans Lievens ; Laboratory of Hydrology and Water Management, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium ; Niko E. C. Verhoest

The synthetic aperture radar (SAR)-based soil moisture retrieval of agricultural fields is often hampered by vegetation effects on the backscattered signal. The semiempirical water cloud model (WCM) allows for estimating the backscatter of a vegetated surface, accounting for both the contributions of the vegetation and the underlying soil. The latter is often described through the integral equation model (IEM). Unfortunately, the IEM requires an accurate parameterization of the surface roughness which is very difficult to achieve. Therefore, this letter extends the WCM with a bare soil contribution that is based on the IEM, which, however, relies on calibrated or effective roughness parameters. Furthermore, this letter compares a number of vegetation indicators for their use in the WCM. Based on a series of L-band SAR observations, it is shown that effective roughness parameters are a promising tool for soil moisture retrieval under a wheat canopy and that the use of a leaf area index may be recommended above other vegetation indicators, as it leads to the lowest root-mean-square errors of about 5.5 vol%. These results prove the operational potential of L-band SAR data for soil moisture inferred under a wheat canopy throughout the entire crop growth cycle.

Published in:

IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters  (Volume:8 ,  Issue: 4 )