Spatio-Temporal Mapping of L-Band Microwave Emission on a Heterogeneous Area with ELBARA III Passive Radiometer

Sensors (Basel). 2019 Aug 7;19(16):3447. doi: 10.3390/s19163447.


Water resources on Earth become one of the main concerns for society. Therefore, remote sensing methods are still under development in order to improve the picture of the global water cycle. In this context, the microwave bands are the most suitable to study land-water resources. The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS), satellite mission of the European Space Agency (ESA), is dedicated for studies of the water in soil over land and salinity of oceans. The part of calibration/validation activities in order to improve soil moisture retrieval algorithms over land is done with ground-based passive radiometers. The European Space Agency L-band Microwave Radiometer (ELBARA III) located near the Bubnów wetland in Poland is capable of mapping microwave emissivity at the local scale, due to the azimuthal and vertical movement of the horn antenna. In this paper, we present results of the spatio-temporal mapping of the brightness temperatures on the heterogeneous area of the Bubnów test-site consisting of an area with variable organic matter (OM) content and different type of vegetation. The soil moisture (SM) was retrieved with the L-band microwave emission of the biosphere (L-MEB) model with simplified roughness parametrization (SRP) coupling roughness and optical depth parameters. Estimated soil moisture values were compared with in-situ data from the automatic agrometeorological station. The results show that on the areas with a relatively low OM content (4-6%-cultivated field) there was good agreement between measured and estimated SM values. Further increase in OM content, starting from approximately 6% (meadow wetland), caused an increase in bias, root mean square error (RMSE), and unbiased RMSE (ubRMSE) values and a general drop in correlation coefficient (R). Despite a span of obtained R values, we found that time-averaged estimated SM using the L-MEB SRP approach strongly correlated with OM contents.

Keywords: ELBARA; L-band radiometry; electromagnetic moisture sensors; microwave remote sensing; soil moisture.