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Soil moisture estimation under a vegetation cover: combined active passive microwave remote sensing approach

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Data gathered during the NASA sponsored Multisensor Aircraft Campaign Hydrology (MACHYDRO) experiment in central Pennsylvania (U.S.A.) in July, 1990 have been analysed to study the combined use of active and passive microwave sensors for estimating soil moisture from vegetated areas. These data sets were obtained during an eleven-day period with NASA's Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (AIRSAR), and Push-Broom Microwave Radiometer (PBMR) over an instrumented watershed, which included agricultural fields with a number of different crop covers. Simultaneous ground truth measurements were also made in order to characterize the state of vegetation and soil moisture under a variety of meteorological conditions. Various multi-sensor techniques are currently under investigation to improve the accuracy of remote sensing estimates of the soil moisture in the presence of vegetation and surface roughness conditions using these data sets. One such algorithm involving combination of active and passive microwave sensors is presented here, and is applied to representative corn fields in the Mahantango watershed that was the focus of study during the MACHYDRO experiment. In this algorithm, a simple emission model is inverted to obtain Fresnel reflectivity in terms of ground and vegetation parameters. Since Fresnel reflectivity depends on soil dielectric constant, soil moisture is determined from reflectivity using dielectric-soil moisture relations. The algorithm requires brightness temperature, vegetation and ground parameters as the input parameters. The former is measured by a passive microwave technique and the later two are estimated by using active microwave techniques. The soil moisture estimates obtained by this combined use of active and passive microwave remote sensing techniques, show an excellent agreement with the in situ soil moisture measurements made during the MACHYDRO experiment.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1997-03-20

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