A method to assess the performance of SAR-derived surface soil moisture products

Beale, John; Waine, Toby; Evans, Jonathan ORCID:; Corstanje, Ronald. 2021 A method to assess the performance of SAR-derived surface soil moisture products. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 14. 4504-4516.

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Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is a remote sensing technique for mapping of soil moisture with high spatial resolution. C-band SAR can resolve features at field scale, or better, but responds to moisture only within the top 1 to 2 cm of the soil. When validating SAR-derived soil moisture products against standard in situ measurements at 5 to 10 cm depth, the greater moisture variability at the soil surface may be inaccurately categorized as measurement error. An alternative method was developed where the C-band SAR product is validated against soil moisture simulated at 2 cm depth by the HYDRUS-1D model. This reproduces soil moisture depth profiles from daily meteorological observations, leaf area index, and soil hydraulic parameters. The model was fitted at 13 COSMOS-UK sites so that the model output at 10 cm depth closely reproduced the cosmic ray neutron sensor data. At ten of the sites studied, there was an improvement of up to 8% in root-mean-squared difference by validating the Copernicus surface soil moisture (SSM) product at 2 cm compared to 10 cm. This suggests that Copernicus SSM and other C -band SAR surface soil moisture algorithms may be more accurate than have hitherto been acknowledged.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Hydro-climate Risks (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1939-1404
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: land surface, moisture measurement, remote sensing, soil moisture
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 01 Jun 2021 16:17 +0 (UTC)

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