Investigation of SMAP Active-Passive Downscaling Algorithms Using Combined Sentinel-1 SAR and SMAP Radiometer Data

Lian He, Yang Hong, Xiaoling Wu, Nan Ye, Jeffrey P. Walker, Xiaona Chen

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3 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this paper was to test the capabilities of the Sentinel-1 radar data in downscaling Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) radiometer data for high-resolution soil moisture estimation. Three different active-passive downscaling algorithms, including the brightness temperature-based downscaling algorithm (BTBDA), the soil moisture-based downscaling algorithm (SMBDA), and a change detection method (CDM), were analyzed using pairs of Sentinel-1 active and SMAP passive observations collected over a semiarid landscape in southeastern Australia from May 2015 to May 2016. While these algorithms have been tested previously, this is the first study to evaluate the three algorithms using real Sentinel-1 radar and SMAP radiometer data. The SMAP passive observations were disaggregated to 9-, 3-, and 1-km scales and then compared with ground soil moisture measurements. The results suggest that the root-mean-square error (RMSE) in downscaled soil moisture at 9-km resolution was 0.057, 0.056, and 0.067 cm3/cm3 for the BTBDA, SMBDA, and CDM, respectively. The accuracy of downscaling methods was generally decreased when applied at the finer spatial resolution. The SMBDA had overall better performance in terms of correctly detecting the soil moisture pattern and relatively lower RMSE values, and is, therefore, recommended for the combined Sentinel-1 radar and SMAP radiometer setup for soil moisture monitoring. The influence of incidence angle normalization of Sentinel-1 SAR data on downscaled soil moisture was also investigated and found to be minimal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4906-4918
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Active-passive
  • downscaling algorithm
  • Sentinel-1
  • soil moisture
  • Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP)

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