Using a discrete scattering model to constrain water cloud model for simulating ground-based scatterometer measurements and retrieving soil moisture

Xiaojing Bai, Donghai Zheng, Jun Wen, Xin Wang, R. Van der Velde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Potential of constraining semi-empirical model with physically-based model simulations has long been recognized. This study contributes to this topic through the assessment of backscatter coefficient (o) simulations and soil moisture retrieval using the water cloud model (WCM) constrained by a discrete scattering model. The WCM is coupled with Oh and Dubois models, respectively. One year of C-band co-polarized o are collected by a ground-based scatterometer deployed in the seasonally frozen Tibetan meadow ecosystem. It is found that: i) the calibrated TVG model simulates well the seasonal dynamics and magnitudes of scatterometer measurements, and the simulated scattering components and vegetation transmissivity agree well with the seasonal vegetation dynamics; ii) the total scattering simulated by the constrained WCMs shows a good consistency with the scatterometer measurements, and the simulated soil and vegetation scattering components are in line with the TVG simulations; and iii) the retrieved soil moisture based on the constrained WCMs captures well the seasonal variability noted in the in-situ measurements. An additional experiment is performed to calibrate the WCMs directly, and the results show that the calibrated WCMs achieve comparable results with the calibrated TVG model and the constrained WCMs in terms of the total o and soil moisture retrieved. However, the direct calibration of the WCMs leads to unrealistic characterization of individual soil and vegetation scattering contributions. These findings demonstrate that usage of a physically-based scatter model to constrain semi-empirical models lead to results that provide a more robust representation of reality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9424-9434
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Journal of selected topics in applied earth observations and remote sensing
Early online date10 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Active remote sensing
  • frozen soil
  • Moisture measurement
  • Radar measurements
  • Scattering
  • scattering component
  • Sentinel-1
  • Soil measurements
  • Soil moisture
  • soil moisture retrieval
  • Temperature measurement
  • Tibetan Plateau
  • Tor Vergata model
  • Vegetation mapping


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