Inference of soil freezing front depth during the freezing period from the L-band passive microwave brightness temperature

LV Shaoning, Lianyu Yu, Yijian Zeng, Jun Wen, Clemens Simmer, Zhongbo su

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The freezing front depth (zff) of annual freeze-thaw cycles is critical for monitoring the dynamics of the cryosphere under climate change because zff is a sensitive indicator of the heat balance over the atmosphere-cryosphere interface. Meanwhile, although it is very promising for acquiring global soil moisture distribution, the L-band microwave remote sensing products over seasonally frozen grounds and permafrost is much less than in wet soil. This study develops an algorithm, i.e., the brightness temperature inferred freezing front (BT-FF) model, for retrieving the interannual zff with the diurnal amplitude variation of L-band brightness temperature (ΔTB) during the freezing period. The new algorithm assumes first, the daily-scale solar radiation heating/cooling effect causes the daily surface thawing depth (ztf) variation, which leads further to ΔTB; second, ΔTB can be captured by an L-band radiometer; third, ztf and zff are negatively linear correlated and their relation can be quantified using the Stefan equation. In this study, the modeled soil temperature profiles from the land surface model (STEMMUS-FT, i.e., simultaneous transfer of energy, mass, and momentum in unsaturated soil with freeze and thaw) and TB observations from a tower-based L-band radiometer (ELBARA-III) at Maqu are used to validate the BT-FF model. It shows that, first, ΔTB can be precisely estimated from ztf during the daytime; second, the decreasing of ztf is linearly related to the increase of zff with the Stefan equation; third, the accuracy of retrieved zff is about 5-25 cm; fourth, the proposed model is applicable during the freezing period. The study is expected to extend the application of L-band TB data in cryosphere/meteorology and construct global freezing depth dataset in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4039-4049
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Journal of selected topics in applied earth observations and remote sensing
Early online date3 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023




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