Spatial and Temporal Variability of Root-Zone Soil Moisture Acquired from Hydrologic Modeling and AirMOSS P-Band Radar

Wade T. Crow, Sushil Milak, Mahta Moghaddam, Alireza Tabatabaeenejad, Sermsak Jaruwatanadilok, Xuan Yu, Yuning Shi, Rolf H. Reichle, Yutaka Hagimoto, Richard H. Cuenca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The accurate estimation of grid-scale fluxes of water, energy, and carbon requires consideration of subgrid spatial variability in root-zone soil moisture (RZSM). The NASA Airborne Microwave Observatory of Subcanopy and Subsurface (AirMOSS) mission represents the first systematic attempt to repeatedly map high-resolution RZSM fields using airborne remote sensing across a range of biomes. Here, we compare 3-arc-sec (∼100 m) spatial resolution AirMOSS RZSM retrievals from P-band radar acquisitions over nine separate North American study sites with analogous RZSM estimates generated by the Flux-Penn State Integrated Hydrologic Model (Flux-PIHM). The two products demonstrate comparable levels of accuracy when evaluated against ground-based soil moisture products and a significant level of temporal cross correlation. However, relative to the AirMOSS RZSM retrievals, Flux-PIHM RZSM estimates generally demonstrate much lower levels of spatial and temporal variability, and the spatial patterns captured by both products are poorly correlated. Nevertheless, based on a discussion of likely error sources affecting both products, it is argued that the spatial analysis of AirMOSS and Flux-PIHM RZSM fields provides meaningful upper and lower bounds on the potential range of RZSM spatial variability encountered across a range of natural biomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8586924
Pages (from-to)4578-4590
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Atmospheric Science


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