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On the relationship between land surface infrared emissivity and soil moisture

Zhou, D. K., A. Larar, and Xu Liu (2018), On the relationship between land surface infrared emissivity and soil moisture, J. Appl. Remote Sens., 12, 016030, doi:10.1117/1.JRS.12.016030.

The relationship between surface infrared (IR) emissivity and soil moisture content has been investigated based on satellite measurements. Surface soil moisture content can be estimated by IR remote sensing, namely using the surface parameters of IR emissivity, temperature, vegetation coverage, and soil texture. It is possible to separate IR emissivity from other parameters affecting surface soil moisture estimation. The main objective of this paper is to examine the correlation between land surface IR emissivity and soil moisture. To this end, we have developed a simple yet effective scheme to estimate volumetric soil moisture (VSM) using IR land surface emissivity retrieved from satellite IR spectral radiance measurements, assuming those other parameters impacting the radiative transfer (e.g., temperature, vegetation coverage, and surface roughness) are known for an acceptable time and space reference location. This scheme is applied to a decade of global IR emissivity data retrieved from MetOp-A infrared atmospheric sounding interferometer measurements. The VSM estimated from these IR emissivity data (denoted as IR-VSM) is used to demonstrate its measurement-to-measurement variations. Representative 0.25-deg spatially-gridded monthly-mean IR-VSM global datasets are then assembled to compare with those routinely provided from satellite microwave (MW) multisensor measurements (denoted as MW-VSM), demonstrating VSM spatial variations as well as seasonal-cycles and interannual variability. Initial positive agreement is shown to exist between IR- and MW-VSM (i.e., R2  =  0.85). IR land surface emissivity contains surface water content information. So, when IR measurements are used to estimate soil moisture, this correlation produces results that correspond with those customarily achievable from MW measurements. A decade-long monthly-gridded emissivity atlas is used to estimate IR-VSM, to demonstrate its seasonal-cycle and interannual variation, which is spatially coherent and consistent with that from MW measurements, and, moreover, to achieve our objective of investigating the relationship between land surface IR emissivity and soil moisture.

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Earth Surface & Interior Program (ESI)