Soil moisture is an important and highly variable component of the hydrologic cycle. Active microwave remote sensing offers the potential for frequent observation of soil moisture at basin and regional scales. Notwithstanding recent advances, the goal of obtaining accurate and reliable measurements or maps of soil moisture from these instruments remains elusive. The main difficulties for active sensors such as synthetic aperture radar (SAR) are the combined effects of soil moisture, surface roughness, and vegetation on the backscattered signal. We show that it is possible to separate soil moisture information from the other physical factors that dominate the radar backscattering, such as topography and land cover, through a principal component analysis of a time series of eight European Remote Sensing (ERS) SAR images. The soil moisture patterns observed in one of the principal components are consistent with the rainfall-runoff dynamics of a catchment and reflect the variable source areas occuring in the vicinity of the river network.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Water Science and Technology