DisPATCh as a tool to evaluate coarse-scale remotely sensed soil moisture using localized in situ measurements: Application to SMOS and AMSR-E data in Southeastern Australia

Yoann Malbéteau, Olivier Merlin, Beatriz Molero, Christoph Rudiger, Stephan Bacon

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68 Citations (Scopus)


Validating coarse-scale satellite soil moisture data still represents a big challenge, notably due to the large mismatch existing between the spatial resolution (> 10 km) of microwave radiometers and the representativeness scale (several m) of localized in situ measurements. This study aims to examine the potential of DisPATCh (Disaggregation based on Physical and Theoretical scale Change) for validating SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) and AMSR-E (Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-Earth observation system) level-3 soil moisture products. The ∽40–50 km resolution SMOS and AMSR-E data are disaggregated at 1 km resolution over the Murrumbidgee catchment in Southeastern Australia during a one year period in 2010–2011, and the satellite products are compared with the in situ measurements of 38 stations distributed within the study area. It is found that disaggregation improves the mean difference, correlation coefficient and slope of the linear regression between satellite and in situ data in 77%, 92% and 94% of cases, respectively. Nevertheless, the downscaling efficiency is lower in winter than during the hotter months when DisPATCh performance is optimal. Consistently, better results are obtained in the semi-arid than in a temperate zone of the catchment. In the semi-arid Yanco region, disaggregation in summer increases the correlation coefficient from 0.63 to 0.78 and from 0.42 to 0.71 for SMOS and AMSR-E in morning overpasses and from 0.37 to 0.63 and from 0.47 to 0.73 for SMOS and AMSR-E in afternoon overpasses, respectively. DisPATCh has strong potential in low vegetated semi-arid areas where it can be used as a tool to evaluate coarse-scale remotely sensed soil moisture by explicitly representing the sub-pixel variability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-234
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Issue numberB
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Disaggregation
  • Soil moisture
  • Validation
  • SMOS
  • AMSR-E
  • DisPATCh

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