Assessing the Spatiotemporal Variability of SMAP Soil Moisture Accuracy in a Deciduous Forest Region
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Assessing the Spatiotemporal Variability of SMAP Soil Moisture Accuracy in a Deciduous Forest Region

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  • Journal Title:
    Remote Sensing
  • Description:
    The goal of this study is to assess the temporal variability of the performance of the Soil Moisture Active Passive, SMAP, soil moisture retrievals throughout the seasons as surface conditions change. In-situ soil moisture observations from a network deployed in Millbrook, New York, between 2019 and 2021 are used. The network comprises 25 stations distributed across a 33-km SMAP pixel with a predominantly forest land cover. The in-situ soil moisture observations were collected between 6 and 7 a.m., local time. This article covers the assessment of the temporal accuracy of SMAP soil moisture by incorporating various upscaling methods. Four upscaling methods are used in this study: arithmetic average, Voronoi diagram, topographic wetness index, and land cover weighted average. The agreement between SMAP soil moisture and the upscaled in-situ measurements was gauged using the root-mean-squared difference, the mean difference, and the unbiased root-mean-squared difference. The consistency of the temporal variability of SMAP soil moisture data resulting from the four upscaling methods was analyzed. The results revealed that SMAP retrievals (soil moisture data) are systematically higher than in situ observations during the different seasons. The results indicate that the highest performance of SMAP soil moisture retrievals is in September with an ubRMSD value of 0.03 m3.m−3 for the morning and evening overpasses, which can be attributed to a lower vegetation density during the seasonal transition. The agreement with in-situ observations degrades during March–April with ubRMSD values above 0.04 m3.m−3, reaching ~0.06 m3.m−3 in April, which can be attributed to the non-reliability of in-situ measurements due to freeze\thaw transition and the challenging determination of the soil effective temperature. The ubRMSD is also higher than 0.04 m3.m−3 in the months of May–June, which could be due to the introduced vegetation effect during the growth season. These findings are consistent across all the upscaling methods. The average ubRMSD over the study period is 0.055 m3.m−3, which falls short of meeting the mission’s performance target. This study proves the need to enhance SMAP retrieval over forest sites.
  • Source:
    Remote Sens. 2022, 14(14), 3329
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    CC BY
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