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Technical note: Relief effects for passive microwave remote sensing

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The signal of a microwave radiometer observing a land surface from space is composed of surface and atmospheric contributions, both of which depend on the relief. For proper interpretation of the data these effects should be quantified and, if necessary, taken into account. Relief effects are twofold. First, the path through the atmosphere between the surface and the sensor depends on the altitude of the emitting surface, thus leading to a height-dependent atmospheric influence. The effect can be taken into account by standard atmospheric radiative transfer models if the elevation of the surface and the atmospheric state are known. Second, more relevant for the present discussion is the variable topography of land surfaces, consisting of slopes, ridges and valleys, sometimes with characteristic alignments, and surfaces surrounded by elevated terrain. These surfaces interact radiatively, not only with the atmosphere, but also with each other, leading to the tendency to enhance the effective emission. Under such circumstances, deviations occur from the standard hemispheric emission of a horizontal surface. The interactions do not only depend on topography and emissivity, but also on the bistatic scattering behaviour. Special attention will be paid to the radiation enhancement in a landscape of Lambertian surfaces with elevated horizons. As an example, simulated data for southern Norway are shown.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Institute of Applied Physics, University of Bern, Sidlerstrasse 5, 3012 Bern, Switzerland 2: Centre for Remote Sensing, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, University Road, Bristol BS8 1SS, UK

Publication date: August 15, 2000

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