Retrieving soil moisture profiles based on multifrequency polarimetric radar backscattering observations. Theoretical case study


In this theoretical work, a dual-frequency polarimetric method is proposed for measuring moisture profiles in the topsoil up to 0.30 m thick. A case of measuring soil moisture profiles, which monotonically changes with depth, during 37 days after irrigation is considered. Original values of backscattering coefficients are calculated by the Oh model and by the small perturbation method at frequencies of 5.4 GHz and 435 MHz, respectively. In these calculations, we used measured moisture profiles and spectroscopic refractive mixing dielectric model of non-saline mineral soil with a clay fraction of 9.1%. Soil moisture profiles are retrieved by solving the inverse problem, the cost function of which is constructed based on the co- and cross-polarized ratios, calculated at two frequencies for the measured and modelled soil moisture profiles. An exponential function is used as a modelled soil moisture profile. It is shown that the standard deviation between the retrieved and measured soil moisture values in the surface layer 0.30 m thick appears to be ≤0.02 m3 m−3 (theoretical limit), and the determination coefficient is 0.881. The study shows a promising path towards developing multi-frequency radar systems for remote sensing of soil moisture profiles using satellites-based and unmanned aerial vehicles air-based platforms.