New IEEE TGRS paper on influence of water stress on radar backscatter

Check out our open access IEEE TGRSS paper.

Abstract: Microwave backscatter from vegetated surfaces is influenced by vegetation structure and vegetation water content (VWC), which varies with meteorological conditions and moisture in the root zone. Radar backscatter observations are used for many vegetation and soil moisture monitoring applications under the assumption that VWC is constant on short timescales. This research aims to understand how backscatter over agricultural canopies changes in response to diurnal differences in VWC due to water stress. A standard water-cloud model and a two-layer water-cloud model for maize were used to simulate the influence of the observed variations in bulk/leaf/stalk VWC and soil moisture on the various contributions to total backscatter at a range of frequencies, polarizations, and incidence angles. The bulk VWC and leaf VWC were found to change up to 30% and 40%, respectively, on a diurnal basis during water stress and may have a significant effect on radar backscatter. Total backscatter time series are presented to illustrate the simulated diurnal difference in backscatter for different radar frequencies, polarizations, and incidence angles. Results show that backscatter is very sensitive to variations in VWC during water stress, particularly at large incidence angles and higher frequencies. The diurnal variation in total backscatter was dominated by variations in leaf water content, with simulated diurnal differences of up to 4 dB in X- through Ku-bands (8.6-35 GHz) . This study highlights a potential source of error in current vegetation and soil monitoring applications and provides insights into the potential use for radar to detect variations in VWC due to water stress.

Link: IEEE TGRSS paper

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