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Sensors 2009, 9(2), 1067-1093; doi:10.3390/s90201067

Error in Radar-Derived Soil Moisture due to Roughness Parameterization: An Analysis Based on Synthetical Surface Profiles

1,* , 2
Received: 15 December 2008 / Accepted: 14 January 2009 / Published: 17 February 2009
(This article belongs to the Section Remote Sensors)


In the past decades, many studies on soil moisture retrieval from SAR demonstrated a poor correlation between the top layer soil moisture content and observed backscatter coefficients, which mainly has been attributed to difficulties involved in the parameterization of surface roughness. The present paper describes a theoretical study, performed on synthetical surface profiles, which investigates how errors on roughness parameters are introduced by standard measurement techniques, and how they will propagate through the commonly used Integral Equation Model (IEM) into a corresponding soil moisture retrieval error for some of the currently most used SAR configurations. Key aspects influencing the error on the roughness parameterization and consequently on soil moisture retrieval are: the length of the surface profile, the number of profile measurements, the horizontal and vertical accuracy of profile measurements and the removal of trends along profiles. Moreover, it is found that soil moisture retrieval with C-band configuration generally is less sensitive to inaccuracies in roughness parameterization than retrieval with L-band configuration.
Keywords: SAR; soil moisture; soil roughness parameterization SAR; soil moisture; soil roughness parameterization
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Lievens, H.; Vernieuwe, H.; Álvarez-Mozos, J.; De Baets, B.; Verhoest, N.E. Error in Radar-Derived Soil Moisture due to Roughness Parameterization: An Analysis Based on Synthetical Surface Profiles. Sensors 2009, 9, 1067-1093.

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