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Remote sensing of bare surface soil moisture using EMAC/ESAR data

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Abstract. In this paper we present first results of bare surface soil moisture retrieval using data from the European Multisensor Airborne Campaign/ Experimental Synthetic Aperture Radar (EMAC/ESAR) collected on 9 April 1994 in the Zwalm catchment, Belgium. Data from EMAC Reflective Optics System Imaging Spectrometer (ROSIS) collected on 12 July 1994 over the same catchment were used to develop land use maps. Concurrent to the EMAC/ESAR overflights field data were collected in two subcatchments of the Zwalm catchment. The paper first presents the data processing procedures used for the radar images. Then we apply a theoretical backscattering model to investigate the sensitivity of EMAC/ESAR backscattering coefficients to surface parameters (topography, surface roughness, vegetation and soil moisture). By comparing the predicted backscattering coefficients to the observed ones, we can conclude that classical measurement techniques for surface roughness parameters in remote sensing campaigns are not accurate enough for retrieving soil moisture using theoretical models. A method based on simultaneous retrieval of surface roughness parameters and soil moisture using multiple ESAR measurements is hence proposed. Promising results for retrieved soil moisture confirm the validity of the proposed method.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1997-07-10

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