The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLII-5
Int. Arch. Photogramm. Remote Sens. Spatial Inf. Sci., XLII-5, 861–869, 2018
Int. Arch. Photogramm. Remote Sens. Spatial Inf. Sci., XLII-5, 861–869, 2018

  27 Nov 2018

27 Nov 2018


R. Prajapati, D. Chakraborty, and V. Kumar R. Prajapati et al.
  • Division of Agricultural Physics, ICAR- Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, India

Keywords: soil moisture, microwave remote sensing, optical, thermal, soil moisture proxy

Abstract. Soil moisture influences numerous environmental processes occurring over large spatial and temporal scales. It profoundly influences the hydrological and meteorological activity together with climate predictions and hazard analysis. Space-borne sensors are capable of retrieving the surface soil moisture over a region on a regular basis. Latent heat measurements of soil, reflectance based methods, microwave measurements and synergistic approaches are some of the techniques used since long for providing soil moisture estimates over regional and global scales. Due to the dynamic interaction of soil with crops, retrieval of surface soil moisture is always challenging. This paper gives a brief overview of advance in soil moisture retrieval techniques, and an attempt to generate surface soil moisture from fine-resolution satellite remote sensing data. The optical remote sensing explores the linear relationship between land surface reflectance and soil moisture content, and through development of empirical spectral vegetation indices. Another way to estimate soil moisture emerged by measuring amplitude of diurnal temperature, which is closely related to thermal conductivity and heat capacity of soil. Emergence of radiometric satellite measurements at fine resolution has reached at a higher level of technology these days. Microwave remote sensing techniques have a long legacy of providing surface soil moisture estimates with reasonable accuracy. The SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) and SMAP (Soil Moisture Passive and Active) missions launched in 2009 and 2015 respectively, are completely dedicated for providing soil moisture at global scale with a spatial resolution of 35 km & 3–40 km. These soil moisture products, however, provides data at highly coarser spatial resolution. The launch of Sentinels gave insight by providing active radar and optical data at higher resolution (∼10 m). Sentinel-1 is the first SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) constellation having 6-day revisit time providing data in C-band with dual polarisations. However, no algorithm or methodology is available to generate surface soil moisture product at a finer resolution from dual polarisations. Sentinel-1 data has been used to generate regional surface soil moisture image through modelling. The same has been also used for generating surface soil moisture map of IARI farm at New Delhi. Dubois, a bare surface model, was tested for its suitability for surface soil moisture retrieval of the farm. In addition, radar- based Soil moisture (SM) proxy method was used over Sentinel-1 data for the month of July 2018, and validated through actual surface soil moisture (gravimetric) measurements. Results were satisfactory for a range of 4–16 m3 m−3 of soil moisture, with coefficient of determination (R2) as 0.45, RMSE of 2.35 and a p-value of 0.005. However, over a higher range of soil moisture (21–33 m3 m−3), which occurred after the rainfall, the R2 value reduced to 0.22 with larger RMSE. Results suggested that SM-proxy approach might work well for a limited range (drier part) of soil moisture content, and not for the wet soil.