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Remote Sens. 2015, 7(9), 12041-12056;

Temporal Monitoring of the Soil Freeze-Thaw Cycles over a Snow-Covered Surface by Using Air-Launched Ground-Penetrating Radar

Division of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, 23955-6900 Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
Agrosphere (IBG-3), Forschungszentrum Jlich GmbH, 52425 Juelich, Germany
Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Stilleweg 2, 30655 Hannover, Germany
Earth and Life Institute, Universite Catholique de Louvain, Croix du Sud, 2 box L7.05.02, Louvain-la-Neuve B-1348, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Henrique Lorenzo, Richard Gloaguen and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 30 April 2015 / Accepted: 6 July 2015 / Published: 18 September 2015
PDF [4076 KB, uploaded 21 September 2015]


We tested an off-ground ground-penetrating radar (GPR) system at a fixed location over a bare agricultural field to monitor the soil freeze-thaw cycles over a snow-covered surface. The GPR system consisted of a monostatic horn antenna combined with a vector network analyzer, providing an ultra-wideband stepped-frequency continuous-wave radar. An antenna calibration experiment was performed to filter antenna and back scattered effects from the raw GPR data. Near the GPR setup, sensors were installed in the soil to monitor the dynamics of soil temperature and dielectric permittivity at different depths. The soil permittivity was retrieved via inversion of time domain GPR data focused on the surface reflection. Significant effects of soil dynamics were observed in the time-lapse GPR, temperature and dielectric permittivity measurements. In particular, five freeze and thaw events were clearly detectable, indicating that the GPR signals respond to the contrast between the dielectric permittivity of frozen and thawed soil. The GPR-derived permittivity was in good agreement with sensor observations. Overall, the off-ground nature of the GPR system permits non-invasive time-lapse observation of the soil freeze-thaw dynamics without disturbing the structure of the snow cover. The proposed method shows promise for the real-time mapping and monitoring of the shallow frozen layer at the field scale. View Full-Text
Keywords: ground-penetrating radar; freeze-thaw cycles; seasonal snow cover; inversion ground-penetrating radar; freeze-thaw cycles; seasonal snow cover; inversion

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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 (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Jadoon, K.Z.; Weihermüller, L.; McCabe, M.F.; Moghadas, D.; Vereecken, H.; Lambot, S. Temporal Monitoring of the Soil Freeze-Thaw Cycles over a Snow-Covered Surface by Using Air-Launched Ground-Penetrating Radar. Remote Sens. 2015, 7, 12041-12056.

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