Space-borne GNSS-R signal over a complex topography: modelling and validation
IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
A significant quantity of space-borne Global Navigation Satellite Systems-Reflectometry (GNSS-R) data over land was made available in the last decade, leading to an increasing interest in the assessment of the potentialities of this new remote sensing technique for land monitoring. In this frame, an electromagnetic simulator, such as the Soil And VEgetation Reflection Simulator (SAVERS), has the key role to support the understanding of the physical mechanism involved in the bistatic scattering
... nd to identify the surface features mainly contributing to the observed signal. Originally developed for ground and airborne GNSS-R observations over homogeneous areas, in this study, SAVERS was upgraded to account for space-borne systems. The new version of SAVERS takes into account the inhomogeneity characterizing the large area observed from space altitudes, due to a variable surface elevation and land cover. Coherent and incoherent scattering and polarization rotation are computed taking into account the local slope and elevation of the surface. The simulator was validated against TechDemoSat-1 observations over a bare surface with a complex topography and over a forested surface with a gentle topography. The validation results show the capability of SAVERS to correctly estimate the effect of the topography, enhancing the understanding of the observations. Moreover, it was found that the sensitivity to soil moisture is independent of the topography (about 1.5 dB for a 10% variation of soil moisture). Whereas a saturation of the GNSS-R reflectivity over a variable topography is reached for lower values of biomass, earlier than in the flat case.