Mapping surface roughness and soil moisture using multi-angle radar imagery without ancillary data
The Integral Equation Model (IEM) is the most widely-used, physically based radar backscatter model for sparsely vegetated landscapes. In general, IEM quantifies the magnitude of backscattering as a function of moisture content and surface roughness, which are unknown, and the known radar configurations. Estimating surface roughness or soil moisture by solving the IEM with two unknowns is a classic example of under-determination and is at the core of the problems associated with the use of radar imagery coupled with IEM-like models. This study offers a solution strategy to this problem by the use of multi-angle radar images, and thus provides estimates of roughness and soil moisture without the use of ancillary field data. Results showed that radar images can provide estimates of surface soil moisture at the watershed scale with good accuracy. Results at the field scale were less accurate, likely due to the influence of image speckle. Results also showed that subsurface roughness caused by rock fragments in the study sites caused error in conventional applications of IEM based on field measurements, but was minimized by using the multi-angle approach.