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Toward an Operational Bare Soil Moisture Mapping Using TerraSAR-X Data Acquired Over Agricultural Areas

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7 Author(s)
Aubert, M. ; UMR TETIS, CNES-Noveltis, Montpellier, France ; Baghdadi, N.N. ; Zribi, M. ; Ose, K.
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TerraSAR-X data are processed for an “operational” mapping of bare soils moisture in agricultural areas. Empirical relationships between TerraSAR-X signal and soil moisture were established and validated over different North European agricultural study sites. The results show that the mean error on the soil moisture estimation is less than 4% regardless of the TerraSAR-X configuration (incidence angle, polarization) and the soil surface characteristics (soil surface roughness, soil composition). Furthermore, the potential of TerraSAR-X data (signal, texture features) to discriminate bare soils from other land cover classes in an agricultural watershed was evaluated. The mean signal backscattered from bare soils can be easily differentiated from signals from other land cover classes when the neighboring plots are covered by fully developed crops. This was observed regardless of the TerraSAR-X configuration and the soil moisture conditions. When neighboring plots are covered by early growth crops, a TerraSAR-X image acquired under wet conditions can be useful for discriminating bare soils. Bare soil masks were calculated by object-oriented classifications of mono-configuration TerraSAR-X data. The overall accuracies of the bare soils mapping were higher than 84% for validation based on object and pixel. The bare soils mapping method and the soil moisture relationships were applied to TerraSAR-X images to generate soil moisture maps. The results show that TerraSAR-X sensors provide useful data for monitoring the spatial variations of soil moisture at the within-plot scale. The methods of bare soils moisture mapping developed in this paper can be used in operational applications in agriculture, and hydrology.

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Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, IEEE Journal of  (Volume:6 ,  Issue: 2 )