Exploring the combined use of SMAP and Sentinel-1 data for downscaling soil moisture beyond the 1 km scale

Rena Meyer, Wenmin Zhang, Søren Julsgaard Kragh, Mie Andreasen, Karsten Høgh Jensen, Rasmus Fensholt, Simon Stisen, Majken C. Looms

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Soil moisture estimates at high spatial and temporal resolution are of great value for optimizing water and agricultural management. To fill the gap between local ground observations and coarse spatial resolution remote sensing products, we use Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) and Sentinel-1 data together with a unique data set of ground-based soil moisture estimates by cosmic ray neutron sensors (CRNS) and capacitance probes to test the possibility of downscaling soil moisture to the sub-kilometre resolution. For a high-latitude study area within a highly heterogeneous landscape and diverse land use in Denmark, we first show that SMAP soil moisture and Sentinel-1 backscatter time series correlate well with in situ CRNS observations. Sentinel-1 backscatter in both VV and VH polarizations shows a strong correlation with CRNS soil moisture at higher spatial resolutions (20-400 m) and exhibits distinct and meaningful signals at different land cover types. Satisfactory statistical correlations with CRNS soil moisture time series and capacitance probes are obtained using the SMAP Sentinel-1 downscaling algorithm. Accounting for different land use in the downscaling algorithm additionally improved the spatial distribution. However, the downscaling algorithm investigated here does not fully account for the vegetation dependency at sub-kilometre resolution. The study suggests that future research focussing on further modifying the downscaling algorithm could improve representative soil moisture patterns at a fine scale since backscatter signals are clearly informative. Highlights. Backscatter produces informative signals even at high resolutions. At the 100 m scale, the Sentinel-1 VV and VH polarizations are soil moisture dependent. The downscaling algorithm is improved by introducing land-cover-dependent clusters. The downscaled satellite and CRNS soil moisture agree best at the agricultural site.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3337-3357
Number of pages21
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences
Volume26
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2022

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources

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