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Erratum published on 11 May 2017, see Remote Sens. 2017, 9(5), 468.

Open AccessArticle

L-Band Relative Permittivity of Organic Soil Surface Layers—A New Dataset of Resonant Cavity Measurements and Model Evaluation

CESBIO, Université de Toulouse, CNES/CNRS/IRD/UPS, 31400 Toulouse, France
Laboratoire de l’Intégration du Matériau au Système, Bordeaux University, 33405 Talence, France
Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales, 31400 Toulouse, France
European Space Agency, ESTEC, 2200 AG Noordwijk, The Netherlands
ISPA, INRA Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, 33883 Villenave d’Ornon, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Nicolas Baghdadi and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Remote Sens. 2016, 8(12), 1024;
Received: 26 October 2016 / Revised: 2 December 2016 / Accepted: 8 December 2016 / Published: 16 December 2016
PDF [3273 KB, uploaded 12 May 2017]


Global surface soil moisture products are derived from passive L-band microwave satellite observations. The applied retrieval algorithms include dielectric models (relating soil water content to relative permittivity) developed for mineral soils. First efforts to generate equivalent models for areas where organic surface layers are present such as in the high-latitude regions have recently been undertaken. The objective of this study was to improve our still insufficient understanding of L-band emission of organic substrates in prospect of enhancing soil moisture estimations in the high latitudes undergoing most rapid climatic changes. To this end, L-band relative permittivity measurements using a resonant cavity were carried out on a wide range of organic surface layer types collected at different sites. This dataset was used to evaluate two already existing models for organic substrates. Some samples from underlying mineral layers were considered for comparison. In agreement with theory the bulk relative permittivity measured in organic substrate was decreased due to an increased bound water fraction (where water molecules are rotationally hindered) compared to the measured mineral material and corresponding output of the dielectric model for mineral soils used in satellite algorithms. No distinct differences in dielectric response were detected in the measurements from various organic layer types, suggesting a generally uniform L-band emission behavior. This made it possible to fit a simple empirical model to the data obtained from all collected organic samples. Outputs of the two existing models both based on only one organic surface layer type were found to lie within the spread of our measured data, and in close proximity to the derived simple model. This general consensus strengthened confidence in the validity of all these models. The simple model should be suitable for satellite soil moisture retrieval applications as it is calibrated on a wide range of organic substrate types and the entire wetness range, and does not require any auxiliary input that may be difficult to obtain globally. This renders it generically applicable wherever organic surface layers are present. View Full-Text
Keywords: SMOS; passive microwave remote sensing; L-band; soil moisture; organic soil; relative permittivity SMOS; passive microwave remote sensing; L-band; soil moisture; organic soil; relative permittivity

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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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Bircher, S.; Demontoux, F.; Razafindratsima, S.; Zakharova, E.; Drusch, M.; Wigneron, J.-P.; Kerr, Y.H. L-Band Relative Permittivity of Organic Soil Surface Layers—A New Dataset of Resonant Cavity Measurements and Model Evaluation. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 1024.

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