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Error Assessment of the Initial Near Real-Time METOP ASCAT Surface Soil Moisture Product

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3 Author(s)
Hahn, S. ; Inst. of Photogrammetry & Remote Sensing, Vienna Univ. of Technol., Vienna, Austria ; Melzer, T. ; Wagner, W.

Since December 2008, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites has been operationally distributing a global 25-km surface soil moisture product derived from the Advanced Scatterometer (ASCAT) onboard the meteorological operational platform (METOP) satellite METOP-A. Soil moisture is retrieved by using the semiempirical change detection method originally developed by the Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien) for the Active Microwave Instrument (AMI) flown on the European Remote Sensing (ERS) satellites ERS-1 and ERS-2. With the launch of the first of the three Meteorological Operational Platforms (METOP-A) in October 2006, ASCAT onboard METOP-A inherits and continues the role of his predecessor AMI. The original soil moisture retrieval algorithm (TU Wien model) was expected to be almost directly applicable for ASCAT with only minor changes, since the configuration and technical design is similar to the ERS scatterometers. Since the TU Wien model requires a robust historic long-term reference of scattering parameters, the initial near real-time METOP ASCAT soil moisture product had to rely on the model parameters derived from over 15 years of ERS-1/2. However, the combination of ASCAT backscatter measurements and ERS-1/2 historic long-term reference introduced some artifacts in the soil moisture product. The objectives of this paper were to analyze and investigate the impact of the ERS-1/2 historic long-term reference on the soil moisture retrieval. An error model has been developed to quantify the effects of the two main error sources: differences in spatial resolution and absolute calibration. The results of the study show that a simple model is able to describe the artifacts in the initial near real-time METOP ASCAT soil moisture product, which frequently occur in areas characterized by sharp backscatter contrasts. The expected overestimation of soil moisture using ERS-1/2 model parameters due to a calibration bias between AMI- and ASCAT could be modeled as well.

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Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:50 ,  Issue: 7 )