Retrieving Vegetation Parameters and Soil Reflection Coefficients with P-band SAR Polarimetry

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Seyed Hamed Alemohammad1, Alexandra G Konings1, Thomas Jagdhuber2 and Dara Entekhabi3, (1)Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cambridge, MA, United States, (2)German Aerospace Center DLR Oberpfaffenhofen, Microwaves and Radar Institute, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, (3)Massachusetts Institute of Technology, CEE, Cambridge, MA, United States
Photosynthetic activity of plants is highly dependent on the water available to the plant through its roots. Therefore, measuring the root-zone-soil-moisture across large spatial scales is of great importance for crop monitoring and yield estimation as well as hydrological and ecological modeling. Unlike L-band instruments, which are sensitive to only a few centimeters of the top soil layer, P-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instruments have a penetration depth that can be used to retrieve soil moisture profiles in depths of several tens of centimeters (depending on soil texture and moisture content). NASA’s Airborne Microwave Observatory of Subcanopy and Subsurface (AirMOSS) mission is designed to study the application of P-band SAR measurements for monitoring root-zone-soil-moisture.

In this study, we introduce a new framework to retrieve vegetation parameters and smooth-surface soil reflection coefficients using SAR polarimetry and the fully polarimetric covariance matrix of the backscattering signal from AirMOSS observations. The retrieved soil reflectivities (both horizontally and vertically -polarized) can then be used to estimate the soil moisture profile. The retrieval model takes into account contributions from surface, dihedral and volume scattering coming from the vegetation and soil components, and does not require prior vegetation parameters. This approach reduces the dependency of the retrieval on allometry-based vegetation models with large numbers of uncertain parameters. The performance of this method will be validated using observations from AirMOSS field campaigns in July 2013 over Harvard Forest in Massachusetts, USA. This will enable a quality assessment of the polarimetry-based retrieval of the soil reflectivities and the estimated root-zone-soil-moisture profiles.