Investigation of effect of heterogeneities in vegetation and rainfall on simulated SSM/I brightness temperatures

V. Lakshmi, Eric F. Wood, B. J. Choudhury

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17 Scopus citations


Land surface characteristics: soil and vegetation and rainfall inputs are distributed in nature. Representation of land surface characteristics and inputs in models is lumped at spatial scales corresponding to the grid size or observation density. Complete distributed representation of these characteristics or inputs is infeasible due to excessive computational costs or costs associated with maintaining dense observational networks. The measurements of microwave brightness temperatures by the SSM/I (Special Sensor Microwave Imager) are at resolutions of the order of 56km 56km for 19 GHz and 33 km 33 km for 37 GHz. At these resolutions, soil moisture and vegetation are not homogeneous over the measurement area. The experiments carried out in this study determine the effect of heterogeneities in vegetation (leaf area index) and input rainfall on simulated soil moisture and brightness temperatures and the inversion of brightness temperatures to obtain soil moisture estimates. This study would help us to understand the implications of using the SSM/I microwave brightness temperatures for soil moisture estimation. The consequences of treating rainfall inputs and vegetation over large land surface areas in a lumped fashion is examined. Simpler methods based on dividing the leaf area index or input rainfall into classes rather than explicit representation for representing heterogeneities in leaf area index and spatial distribution of rainfall is tested. It is seen that soil moisture is affected by the representation (lumped vs distributed) of rainfall and not leaf area index. The effect of spatially distributed soil moisture on the inversion of observed SSM/I brightness temperatures to obtain soil moisture estimates is investigated. The inversion process does not exhibit biases in the retrieval of soil moisture. The methodology presented in this paper can be used for any satellite sensor for purposes of analysis and evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2763-2784
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
Issue number13
StatePublished - Sep 1 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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