IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing (Jan 2022)

Airborne GNSS-R Polarimetric Multiincidence Data Analysis for Surface Soil Moisture Estimation Over an Agricultural Site

  • Mehrez Zribi,
  • Vincent Dehaye,
  • Karin Dassas,
  • Pascal Fanise,
  • Michel Le Page,
  • Pierre Laluet,
  • Aaron Boone

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 15
pp. 8432 – 8441


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The objective of this study is to propose a mapping of surface soil moisture (SSM) using airborne measurements based on the GLObal Navigation Satellite System Reflectometry Instrument, a polarimetric instrument. GNSS-R measurements were acquired at the agricultural Urgell site in Spain in July 2021. In situ measurements describing the soil moisture and roughness and the vegetation cover leaf area index were then obtained simultaneously with flight measurements. An analysis of observable copolarization (right–right) reflectivity ${{\boldsymbol{\Gamma}}}_{{\boldsymbol{RR}}}$ and the cross-polarization (right–left) reflectivity $\ {\Gamma }_{RL}$ behaviors as a function of incidence angle is proposed, as is normalization of the reflectivity function of the incidence angle. The sensitivity of reflectivities is then proposed as a function of surface soil moisture. An empirical model with two variables, soil moisture, and the normalized difference vegetation index, based on the principle of the tau–omega model is then considered for the inversion of GNSS-R reflectivity ${\Gamma }_{RL}\ $ and estimation of soil moisture. This model is calibrated and validated by a threefold cross-validation approach. A mapping of SSM at 100 m resolution is created with data from the studied site and three acquired flights.