Effects of corn on C- and L-band radar backscatter: A correction method for soil moisture retrieval

A.T. Joseph*, R. van der Velde, P.E. O'Neill, R. Lang, T. Gish

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper discusses the effects of vegetation on C- (4.75GHz) and L- (1.6GHz) band backscattering (σo) measured throughout a growth cycle at incidence angles of 15, 35 and 55°. The utilized σo data set was collected by a truck mounted scatterometer over a corn field and is supported by a comprehensive set of ground measurements, including soil moisture and vegetation biomass. Comparison of σo measurement against simulations by the Integral Equation Method (IEM) surface scattering model (Fung et al., 1992) shows that the σo measurements are dominated either by an attenuated soil return or by scattering from vegetation depending on the antenna configuration and growth stage. Further, the measured σo is found to be sensitive to soil moisture even at peak biomass and large incidence angles, which is attributed to scattering along the soil-vegetation pathway.For the simulation of C-band σo and the retrieval of soil moisture two methods have been applied, which are the semi-empirical water cloud model (Attema & Ulaby, 1978) and a novel method. This alternative method uses the empirical relationships between the vegetation water content (W) and the ratio of the bare soil and the measured σo to correct for vegetation. It is found that this alternative method is superior in reproducing the measured σo as well as retrieving soil moisture. The highest retrieval accuracies are obtained at a 35° incidence angle leading to RMSD's of 0.044 and 0.037m3m-3 for the HH and VV-polarization, respectively. In addition, the sensitivity of these soil moisture retrievals to W and surface roughness parameter uncertainties is investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2417-2430
Number of pages14
JournalRemote sensing of environment
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • Active microwave
  • Corn
  • Field campaign
  • Soil moisture
  • Vegetation effects


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