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Field-scale spatial variability of soil moisture and L-band brightness temperature from land surface modeling

Garnaud, C., Bélair, S., Carrera, M.L., McNairn, H., Pacheco, A. (2017). Field-scale spatial variability of soil moisture and L-band brightness temperature from land surface modeling, 18(3), 573-589. http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JHM-D-16-0131.1

Abstract

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. Although soil moisture is an essential variable within the Earth system and has been extensively investigated, there is still a limited understanding of its spatiotemporal distribution and variability. Thus, the objective of this study is to attempt to reproduce the spatial variability of soil moisture and brightness temperature as measured by point-based and airborne remote sensing measurements. To do so, Environment and Climate Change Canada's Surface Prediction System (SPS) is run at very high resolution (100 m) over a region of Manitoba (Canada) where an extensive soil moisture experiment took place in the summer of 2012 [SMAP Validation Experiment 2012 (SMAPVEX12)]. Results show that realistic finescale soil texture improves the quality of SPS outputs. Soil moisture spatial average evolution in time is well simulated by SPS. Simulated spatial variability is underestimated when compared to point-based measurements, although results are improved when examined domainwide versus comparisons using grid points corresponding to measurement sites. SPS brightness temperature fields compare well with remote sensing data in terms of spatial variability. It is shown that during drier periods, factors other than soil texture become important with respect to soil moisture spatial variability. However, during periods with plenty of precipitation, soil texture seems essential in improving simulated soil moisture spatial variability at high resolutions. These results support the conclusion that SPS could provide very high-resolution soil moisture products for research and operational purposes if high-resolution soil texture and vegetation products are made available on a larger scale.

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