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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Radar Remote Sensing for Estimation of Surface Soil Moisture at the Watershed Scale 1550

Authors
item Moran, Mary
item Mcelroy, Stephen - UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
item Watts, Joseph - ARMY
item Peters Lidard, Crista - NASA

Submitted to: Proceedings of ARS/INIFAP Binational Symposium on Modeling and Remote Sensing in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 2005
Publication Date: April 10, 2006
Citation: Moran, M.S., Mcelroy, S., Watts, J.M., Peters Lidard, C.D. 2006. Radar remote sensing for estimation of surface soil moisture at the watershed scale. Chapter 7 In: Modeling and Remote Sensing Applied in Agriculture (US and Mexico), Eds. C.W. Richardson, A.S. Baez-Gonzalez and M.Tiscareno. INIFAP Publ. Aquascalientes, Mexico. p. 91-106.

Interpretive Summary: Information about surface soil moisture is critical for many land management decisions and is an important input to ecological simulation models. Generally, information is needed at fine resolutions (10 to 100 m) with extensive regional coverage (1,000 to 25,000 km2). This can be accomplished through the use of sensors mounted on airplanes or satellites measuring radar backscatter. This review summarizes the state of the science using current satellite-based sensors to determine regional surface soil moisture distribution. The basic conclusion of this review is that currently orbiting sensors can provide surface soil moisture information with known accuracy at the regional scale. However, to realize a truly operational system for watershed management, it will be necessary to continue sensor development, improve image availability and timely delivery, and reduce image cost.

Technical Abstract: Surface soil moisture (ms) is the average moisture (cm3 cm-3) in the top few centimeters of soil over a heterogeneous volume. Such information at spatial resolutions of 10 to 100 m and spatial coverage ranging from 1,000 to 25,000 km2 would be useful for many watershed management applications. A feasible way to determine distributed surface soil moisture at this resolution and coverage is through the use of satellite-based sensors, particularly those measuring microwave backscatter. This review summarizes the state of the science using current satellite-based sensors to determine regional surface soil moisture distribution. The basic conclusion of this review is that currently orbiting sensors can provide ms information with known accuracy at the watershed scale. The priority areas for future research should include active and passive microwave data fusion, determination of soil moisture in densely vegetated sites, and image-based approaches for mapping surface roughness. However, to realize a truly operational system for watershed management, it will be necessary to continue sensor development, improve image availability and timely delivery, and reduce image cost.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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