Frozen soil and permafrost affect ecosystem diversity and productivity as well as global energy and water cycles. Although some space-based Radar techniques or ground-based sensors can monitor frozen soil and permafrost variations, there are some shortcomings and challenges. For the first time, we use GPS-Interferometric Reflectometry (GPS-IR) to monitor and investigate the bare soil freeze–thaw process as a new remote sensing tool. The mixed-texture permittivity models are employed to calculate the frozen and thawed soil permittivities. When the soil freeze/thaw process occurs, there is an abrupt change in the soil permittivity, which will result in soil scattering variations. The corresponding theoretical simulation results from the forward GPS multipath simulator show variations of GPS multipath observables. As for the in-situ measurements, virtual bistatic radar is employed to simplify the analysis. Within the GPS-IR spatial resolution, one SNOTEL site (ID 958) and one corresponding PBO (plate boundary observatory) GPS site (AB33) are used for analysis. In 2011, two representative days (frozen soil on Doy of Year (DOY) 318 and thawed soil on DOY 322) show the SNR changes of phase and amplitude. The GPS site and the corresponding SNOTEL site in four different years are analyzed for comparisons. When the soil freeze/thaw process occurred and no confounding snow depth and soil moisture effects existed, it exhibited a good absolute correlation (|R| = 0.72 in 2009, |R| = 0.902 in 2012, |R| = 0.646 in 2013, and |R| = 0.7017 in 2014) with the average detrended SNR data. Our theoretical simulation and experimental results demonstrate that GPS-IR has potential for monitoring the bare soil temperature during the soil freeze–thaw process, while more test works should be done in the future. GNSS-R polarimetry is also discussed as an option for detection. More retrieval work about elevation and polarization combinations are the focus of future development.
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