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Potential of Dubois model for soil moisture retrieval in prairie areas using SAR and optical data

Bai, Xiaojing, He, Binbin
International journal of remote sensing 2015 v.36 no.22 pp. 5737-5753
correlation, leaf area index, models, normalized difference vegetation index, prairies, remote sensing, soil water, surface roughness, synthetic aperture radar, water content, China
Soil moisture retrieval is often confounded by the influence of vegetation and surface roughness on the backscattered radar signal in vegetated areas. In this study, a semi-empirical methodology is proposed to retrieve soil moisture in prairie areas. The effect of vegetation is eliminated by the ratio vegetation method and water cloud model (WCM), respectively. The conditions of vegetation are characterized by leaf area index (LAI), vegetation water content (VWC), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and enhanced vegetation index (EVI), respectively. To remove the dependence on surface roughness, the dielectric constant is explicitly expressed as the function of co-polarization backscattering coefficients and sensor parameters based on the Dubois model. The ground measurements and satellite data collected from the Ruoergai and Wutumeiren prairies of China allow for validating the feasibility and effectiveness of the proposed methodology. From the perspective of soil moisture retrieval accuracy, the ratio vegetation method performs better than WCM. In the Ruoergai prairie, the best soil moisture retrieval result is obtained when EVI is used, with correlation coefficient (r) and root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.87 and 3.50 vol.%, respectively. While in the Wutumeiren prairie, the lowest retrieval error is obtained when LAI is used, with r and RMSE values of 0.79 and 5.73 vol.%, respectively. These results demonstrate that the Dubois model has a potential for enhancing soil moisture retrieval in prairie areas using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and optical data.