At radar frequencies below 2 GHz, the mismatch between the 5 to 15 cm sensing depth of classical time domain reflectometry (TDR) probe soil moisture measurements and the radar penetration depth can easily lead to unreliable in situ data. Accurate quantitative measurements of soil water contents at various depths by classical methods are cumbersome and usually highly invasive. We propose an improved method for the estimation of vertical soil moisture profiles from multi-offset ground penetrating radar (GPR) data. A semi-automated data acquisition technique allows for very fast and robust measurements in the field. Advanced common mid-point (CMP) processing is applied to obtain quantitative estimates of the permittivity and depth of the reflecting soil layers. The method is validated against TDR measurements using data acquired in different environments. Depth and soil moisture contents of the reflecting layers were estimated with root mean square errors (RMSE) on the order of 5 cm and 1.9 Vol.-%, respectively. Application of the proposed technique for the validation of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) soil moisture estimates is demonstrated based on a case study using airborne L-band data and ground-based P-band data. For the L-band case we found good agreement between the near-surface GPR estimates and extended integral equation model (I2EM) based SAR retrievals, comparable to those obtained by TDR. At the P-band, the GPR based method significantly outperformed the TDR method when using soil moisture estimates at depths below 30 cm.
- Soil moisture
- Vadose zone
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)