Toward P-band passive microwave sensing of soil moisture

Nan Ye, Jeffrey P. Walker, In Young Yeo, Thomas J. Jackson, Yann Kerr, Edward Kim, Andrew McGrath, Ivan Popstefanija, Mark Goodberlet, James Hills

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Currently, near-surface soil moisture at a global scale is being provided using National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) and European Space Agency's (ESA's) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellites, both of which utilize L-band (1.4 GHz; 21 cm wavelength) passive microwave remote sensing techniques. However, a fundamental limitation of this technology is that the water content can only be measured for approximately the top 5-cm layer of soil moisture, and only over low-to-moderate vegetation covered areas in order to meet the 0.04 text{m}{3}/text{m}{3} target accuracy, limiting its applicability. Consequently, a longer wavelength radiometer is being explored as a potential solution for measuring soil moisture in a deeper surface layer of soil and under denser vegetation. It is expected that P-band (wavelength of 40 cm and frequency of 750 MHz) could potentially provide soil moisture information for the top sim 10 -cm layer of soil, being one-tenth to one-quarter of the wavelength. In addition, P-band is expected to have higher soil moisture retrieval accuracy due to its reduced sensitivity to vegetation water content and surface roughness. To demonstrate the potential of P-band passive microwave soil moisture remote sensing, a short-term airborne field experiment was conducted over a center pivot irrigated farm at Cressy in Tasmania, Australia, in January 2017. First results showing a comparison of airborne P-band brightness temperature observations against airborne L-band brightness temperature observations and ground soil moisture measurements are presented. The P-band brightness temperature was found to have a similar but stronger response to soil moisture compared to L-band.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-508
Number of pages5
JournalIEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Airborne field experiments
  • brightness temperature
  • L-band
  • P-band
  • soil moisture

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