A synergisitic Neural Network Soil Moisture Retrieval Algorithm for SMAP

Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Jana Kolassa, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States
A Neural Network (NN)-based algorithm is developed to retrieve surface soil moisture from Soil Moisture Active/Passive (SMAP) microwave observations. This statistical approach serves as an alternative to the official Radiative Transfer (RT) based SMAP retrieval algorithm, since it avoids an explicit formulation of the RT processes as well as the use of often uncertain or unavailable a priori knowledge for additional surface parameters. The NN algorithm is calibrated on observations from the SMAP radiometer and radar as well as surface soil moisture fields from the MERRA-2 reanalysis. To highlight different physical aspects of the satellite signals and to maximize the soil moisture information, different preprocessing techniques of the SMAP data are investigated. These include an analysis of radiometer polarization and diurnal indices to isolate the surface temperature contribution, as well as the radar co- and cross-polarized channels to account for vegetation effects. A major difference with respect to the official retrieval is the increased importance given to the information provided by the SMAP radar or other active sensors, utilizing not only the relative spatial structures, but also the absolute soil moisture information provided. The NN methodology combines multiple sensor observations in a data fusion approach and is thus able to fully exploit the complementarity of the information provided by the different instruments. The algorithm is used to compute global estimates of surface soil moisture and evaluated against retrieved soil moisture from SMOS as well as in situ observations from the International Soil Moisture Network (ISMN). The calibration on MERRA-2 data means that the NN retrieval algorithm functions as the model operator in a data assimilation framework yielding soil moisture estimates that are very compatible with the model. This could facilitate the assimilation of SMAP observations into land surface and numerical weather prediction models.