Monitoring of rain water storage in forests with satellite radar

Article English OPEN
de Jong, JJM ; Klaassen, W ; Kuiper, PJC

The sensitivity of radar backscatter to the amount of intercepted rain in temperate deciduous forests is analyzed to determine the feasibility of retrieval of this parameter from satellite radar data. A backscatter model is validated with X-band radar measurements of a single tree exposed to rain. A good agreement between simulation and measurements is observed and this demonstrates the ability of radar to measure the amount of intercepted rain. The backscatter model is next applied to simulate different satellite radar configurations. To account for forest variability, the backscatter difference between a wet and dry forest canopy is calculated for four deciduous tree species, above a wet and a dry soil. On average, the simulated backscatter of a wet forest canopy is I dB higher than the backscatter of a dry forest canopy at co-polarized L-band and 2 dB at co-polarized C and X-band. The simulated sensitivity is in agreement with observations. It is argued that current satellites can retrieve the amount of intercepted rain at best with a reliability of 50%, due to the variability in soil moisture, species composition and system noise. We expect that the reliability will improve with the launch of the next generation radar satellites. The results of this analysis may also be used to assess the influence of rain, fog or dew upon other radar applications for temperate deciduous forests.
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