Soil moisture mapping based on ASAR/ENVISAT radar data over a Sahelian region

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Abstract:

The analysis of feedbacks between continental surfaces and the atmosphere is one of the key factors to understanding African Monsoon dynamics. For this reason, the monitoring of surface parameters, in particular soil moisture, is very important. Satellite remote sensing appears to be the most suitable means of obtaining data relevant to such parameters. The present paper presents a methodology applied to the mapping and monitoring of surface soil moisture over the Kori Dantiandou region in Niger, using data provided by the ASAR/ENVISAT radar instrument. The study is based on 15 sets of ASAR/ENVISAT C-band radar data, acquired during the 2004 and 2005 rainy seasons. Simultaneously with radar acquisitions, ground soil moisture measurements were carried out in a large number of test fields. Soil moisture was estimated only for fields with bare soil or low-density vegetation, using low-incidence-angle radar data (IS1 configuration). A mask was developed, using SPOT/HRV data and DTM, for use over areas characterized by high-density vegetation cover, pools, and areas with high slopes. Soil moisture estimations are based on horizontal- and vertical-polarization radar data. In order to double the temporal frequency of soil moisture estimations, IS2 data were used with IS1 data, with all data normalized to a single incidence angle. A high correlation is observed between in situ measurements and processed radar data. An empirical inversion technique is proposed, to estimate surface soil moisture from dual-polarization data with a spatial resolution of approximately 1 km. Surface soil moisture maps are presented for all the studied sites, at various dates in 2004 and 2005. Of particular interest, these maps reveal convective precipitation scales associated with strong spatial variations in surface soil moisture.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01431160601009680

Affiliations: 1: CETP/CNRS, Vélizy, France 2: IRD, Niamey, Niger

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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