The effect of soil moisture on the 37GHz microwave polarization difference index (MPDI)
Abstract. Previous studies have shown that the 37 GHz microwave polarization difference index (MPDI) has an inverse nonlinear relationship to the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) with the MPDI (NDVI) being more sensitive to vegetation density under sparse (moderate) vegetation conditions. It has also been noted that soil moisture can have a significant influence on the MPDI. This study quantifies the effect of soil moisture on the MPDI using the RADTRAN model and comparison with measurements from a few geographically restricted (eastern USA) study sites. Model results show the MPDI increases with soil moisture but its sensitivity approaches zero when soil moisture values or vegetation densities are large. Results based on special sensor microwave/imager (SSM/I) measured values of MPDI, using the NDVI as a surrogate for vegetation density and an antecedent precipitation index (API) as a surrogate for soil moisture, were consistent with those based on the model. Linear equations, one for each of three categories of vegetation density, expressing MPDI as a function of API were derived based on SSM/I measurements. These equations demonstrate that soil moisture information can be extracted from the MPDI when the NDVI is used to account for the effect of vegetation and that the effect of soil moisture on the MPDI should be taken into account if it is to be used as a vegetation index. The potential to normalize MPDI values for variations in soil moisture is discussed.