Journal article Open Access

Evaluation of aMetOp ASCAT-Derived Surface Soil Moisture Product in Tundra Environments

Högström, Elin; Heim, Birgit; Bartsch, Annett; Bergstedt, Helena; Pointner, Georg


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    <subfield code="a">&lt;p&gt;Satellite-derived surface soil moisture data are available for the Arctic, but detailed validation&lt;br&gt;
is still lacking. Previous studies have shown low correlations between in situ and modeled data. It is&lt;br&gt;
hypothesized that soil temperature variations after soil thaw impact MetOp ASCAT satellite-derived surface&lt;br&gt;
soil moisture (SSM) measurements in wet tundra environments, as C band backscatter is sensitive to&lt;br&gt;
changes in dielectric properties. We compare in situ measurements of water content within the active layer&lt;br&gt;
at four sites across the Arctic in Alaska (Barrow, Sagwon, Toolik) and Siberia (Tiksi), taken in the spring after&lt;br&gt;
thawing and in autumn prior to freezing. In addition to the long-term measurement fields, where sensors&lt;br&gt;
are installed deeper in the ground, we designed a monitoring setup for measuring moisture very close&lt;br&gt;
to the surface in the Lena River Delta, Siberia. The volumetric water content (VWC) and soil temperature&lt;br&gt;
sensors were placed in the moss organic layer in order to account for the limited penetration depth of&lt;br&gt;
the radar signal. ASCAT SSM variations are generally very small, in line with the low variability of in situ&lt;br&gt;
VWC. Short-term changes after complete thawing of the upper organic layer, however, seem to be mostly&lt;br&gt;
influenced by soil temperature. Correlations between SSM and in situ VWC are generally very low, or even&lt;br&gt;
negative. Mean standard deviation matching results in a comparably high root-mean-square error (on&lt;br&gt;
average 11%) for predictions of VWC. Further investigations and measurement networks are needed to&lt;br&gt;
clarify factors causing temporal variation of C band backscatter in tundra regions.&lt;/p&gt;</subfield>
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