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Microwave remote sensing of soil moisture for estimation of profile soil property

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Multi-temporal microwave remotely-sensed soil moisture has been utilized for the estimation of profile soil property, viz. the soil hydraulic conductivity. Passive microwave remote sensing was employed to collect daily soil moisture data across the Little Washita watershed, Oklahoma, during 10-18 June 1992. The ESTAR (Electronically Steered Thin Array Radiometer) instrument operating at L -band was flown on a NASA C-130 aircraft. Brightness temperature (TB) data collected at a ground resolution of 200m were employed to derive spatial distribution of surface soil moisture. Analysis of spatial and temporal soil moisture information in conjunction with soils data revealed a direct relation between changes in soil moisture and soil texture. A geographical information system (GIS) based analysis suggested that 2-days initial drainage of soil, measured from remote sensing, was related to an important soil hydraulic property viz. the saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat). A hydrologic modelling methodology was developed for estimation of Ksat of surface and sub-surface soil layers. Specifically, soil hydraulic parameters were optimized to obtain a good match between model estimated and field measured soil moisture profiles. Relations between 2-days soil moisture change and Ksat of 0-5 cm, 0-30 cm and 0-60cm depths yielded correla tions of 0.78, 0.82 and 0.71, respectively. These results are comparable to the findings of previous studies involving laboratory-controlled experiments and numerical simulations, and support their extension to the field conditions of the Little Washita watershed. These findings have potential applications of microwave remote sensing to obtain 2-days of soil moisture and then to quickly estimate the spatial distribution of Ksat over large areas.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1998-06-10

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