Publications in Scientific Journals:

M. Doubkova, A. Van Dijk, D. Sabel, W. Wagner, G. Blöschl:
"Evaluation of the predicted error of the soil moisture retrieval from C-band SAR by comparison against modelled soil moisture estimates over Australia";
Remote Sensing of Environment, 120 (2012), 188 - 196.

English abstract:
The Sentinel-1 will carry onboard a C-band radar instrument that will map the European continent once every four days and the global land surface at least once every twelve days with finest 5 20 m spatial resolution. The high temporal sampling rate and operational configuration make Sentinel-1 of interest for operational soil moisture monitoring. Currently, updated soil moisture data are made available at 1 km spatial resolution as a demonstration service using Global Mode (GM) measurements from the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) onboard ENVISAT. The service demonstrates the potential of the C-band observations to monitor variations in soil moisture. Importantly, a retrieval error estimate is also available; these are needed to assimilate observations into models. The retrieval error is estimated by propagating sensor errors through the retrieval model.

In this work, the existing ASAR GM retrieval error product is evaluated using independent top soil moisture estimates produced by the grid-based landscape hydrological model (AWRA-L) developed within the Australian Water Resources Assessment system (AWRA). The ASAR GM retrieval error estimate, an assumed prior AWRA-L error estimate and the variance in the respective datasets were used to spatially predict the root mean square error (RMSE) and the Pearson's correlation coefficient R between the two datasets. These were compared with the RMSE calculated directly from the two datasets. The predicted and computed RMSE showed a very high level of agreement in spatial patterns as well as good quantitative agreement; the RMSE was predicted within accuracy of 4% of saturated soil moisture over 89% of the Australian land mass. Predicted and calculated R maps corresponded within accuracy of 10% over 61% of the continent. The strong correspondence between the predicted and calculated RMSE and R builds confidence in the retrieval error model and derived ASAR GM error estimates.

The ASAR GM and Sentinel-1 have the same basic physical measurement characteristics, and therefore very similar retrieval error estimation method can be applied. Because of the expected improvements in radiometric resolution of the Sentinel-1 backscatter measurements, soil moisture estimation errors can be expected to be an order of magnitude less than those for ASAR GM. This opens the possibility for operationally available medium resolution soil moisture estimates with very well-specified errors that can be assimilated into hydrological or crop yield models, with potentially large benefits for land-atmosphere fluxes, crop growth, and water balance monitoring and modelling.

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR); Soil moisture; ASAR GM; Error evaluation; Australia; Australian Water Resources Assessment System (AWRA)

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