Improving SMOS soil moisture algorithm performance in forested areas with multisensor SAR data

Jaakko Seppänen, Jaan Praks, Oleg Antropov

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


In this paper, we propose a new approach for improving boreal forest soil moisture estimation using L-band microwave radiometer. The effect is achieved by introducing improved description of forest canopy contribution from multisensor SAR measurements. Spaceborne L-band radiometer is a valuable tool for providing soil moisture estimates globally. Unfortunately, complex vegetation layer, such as forest, can hamper the accuracy of soil moisture retrieval leading to rather poor results particularly over boreal forest areas. Currently, the L-band Microwave Emission of the Biosphere (L-MEB) model adopted in the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) Level 2 Soil Moisture algorithm, uses Leaf Area Index (LA!) in order to to account for forest canopy contribution to total emission. However, it can argued that LA! presents poorly the actual structure of the coniferous forest. The LA! is calibrated to represent only the leaves, but at L-band, the main contribution to emission and attenuation is due to branches, while trunks and leaves have smaller effects. Here, we tested several combinations of spaceborne SAR data as a substitute of LA! in temperature brightness models for soil moisture retrieval. Particularly when L-band ALOS PALSAR stripmap data were used, the agreement between modelled and measured TB has improved from 0.46 to 0.55 in the L-MEB model.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2016 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, IGARSS 2016
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9781509033324
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventInternational Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium - Beijing, China
Duration: 10 Jul 201615 Jul 2016
Conference number: 36

Publication series

NameIEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium proceedings
ISSN (Print)2153-6996
ISSN (Electronic)2153-7003


ConferenceInternational Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium
Abbreviated titleIGARSS


  • L-band radiometer
  • L-MEB
  • SMOS
  • Soil moisture


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