Passive Microwave Retrieval of Soil Moisture Below Snowpack at L-Band Using SMAP Observations

Divya Kumawat, Mohammadali Olyaei, Lun Gao, Ardeshir Ebtehaj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Soil and its water content can remain unfrozen below an insulative snow cover and modulate snowmelt infiltration and runoff. In this article, an emission model is proposed to account for L-band microwave emission of wet soils below a dry snowpack covered with an emerging moderately dense vegetation canopy. The model links the well-known Tau-Omega emission model with the snowpack dense media radiative transfer (DMRT) theory and a multilayer composite reflection model to account for the impacts of a snow layer on the upwelling soil and the downwelling vegetation emission, respectively. It is demonstrated that even though a dry snow is a low-loss medium at the L-band, omission of its presence leads to underestimation of soil moisture (SM), especially when soil (snow) becomes wetter (denser). Constrained inversion of the proposed emission model, using brightness temperatures from the Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) satellite, shows that the retrievals of SM and vegetation optical depth (VOD) are achievable with unbiased root-mean-squared errors of 0.060 m3m-3 and 0.124 [-], when compared with the in situ data from the International Soil Moisture Network (ISMN) and VOD-derived values from the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) obtained from the moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4415216
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

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  • Computational modeling
  • L-band
  • Microwave theory and techniques
  • Passive microwave radiometry
  • Radiative transfer theory
  • Reflection
  • Snow
  • Snow cover
  • Soil moisture
  • Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Satellite
  • Soil moisture retrieval
  • Vegetation mapping


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