Year-long, broad-band, microwave backscatter observations of an Alpine Meadow over the Tibetan Plateau with a ground-based scatterometer [post]

Jan G. Hofste, Rogier van der Velde, Jun Wen, Xin Wang, Zuoliang Wang, Donghai Zheng, Christiaan van der Tol, Zhongbo Su
2020 unpublished
<p><strong>Abstract.</strong> A ground-based scatterometer was installed on an alpine meadow over the Tibetan Plateau to study the soil moisture and -temperature dynamics of the top soil layer and air-soil interface during the period August 2017–August 2018. The deployed system measured the amplitude and phase of the ground surface radar return at hourly and half-hourly intervals over 1–10 GHz in the four linear polarization combinations (vv, hh,
more » ... v, vh). In this paper we describe the developed scatterometer system, gathered datasets, retrieval method for the backscattering coefficient (σ<sup>0</sup>), and results of (σ<sup>0</sup>) for co-polarization.</p><p> The system was installed on a 5 m high tower and designed using only commercially available components: a Vector Network Analyser (VNA), four coaxial cables, and two dual polarization broadband gain horn antennas at a fixed position and orientation. We provide a detailed description on how to retrieve the co-polarized backscattering coefficients σ<sup>0</sup><sub><i>vv</i></sub> & σ<sup>0</sup><sub><i>hh</i></sub> for this specific scatterometer design. To account for the particular effects caused by wide antenna radiation patterns (<i>G</i>) at lower frequencies, σ<sup>0</sup> was calculated using the narrow-beam approximation combined with a mapping the function <i>G</i><sup>2</sup>/<i>R</i><sup>4</sup> over the ground surface. (<i>R</i> is the distance between antennas and the infinitesimal patches of ground surface.) This approach allowed for a proper derivation of footprint positions and -areas, and incidence angle ranges. The frequency averaging technique was used to reduce the effects of fading on the σ<sup>0</sup> uncertainty. Absolute calibration of the scatterometer was achieved with measured backscatter from a rectangular metal plate as reference target. </p><p> In the retrieved time-series of σ<sup>0</sup><sub><i>vv</i></sub> & σ<sup>0</sup><sub><i>hh</i></sub> for S-band (2.5–3.0 GHz), C-band (4.5–5.0 GHz), and X-band (9.0–10.0 GHz) we observed characteristic changes or features that can be attributed to seasonal or diurnal changes in the soil. For example a fully frozen top soil, diurnal freeze-thaw changes in the top soil, emerging vegetation in spring, and drying of soil. Our preliminary analysis on the collected σ<sup>0</sup> time-series data set demonstrates that it contains valuable information on water- and energy exchange directly below the air-soil interface. Information which is difficult to quantify, at that particular position, with in-situ measurements techniques alone.</p> <p> Availability of backscattering data for multiple frequency bands allows for studying scattering effects at different depths within the soil and vegetation canopy during the spring and summer periods. Hence further investigation of this scatterometer data set provides an opportunity to gain new insights in hydro-meteorological processes, such as freezing and thawing, and how these can be monitored with multi-frequency scatterometer observations. The data set is available via <a href="" target="_blank"></a> (Hofste and Su, 2020). </p><p> The effects of fading, calibration, and system stability on the uncertainty in σ<sup>0</sup> are estimated to vary from ± 1.3 dB for X-band with vv-polarization to ± 2.7 dB for S-band with hh-polarization through the campaign. The low angular resolution of the antennas result in additional σ<sup>0</sup> uncertainty, one that is more difficult to quantify. Estimations point out that it probably will not exceed ± 2 dB with C-band. Despite these uncertainties, we believe that the strength of our approach lies in the capability of measuring σ<sup>0</sup> dynamics over a broad frequency range, 1–10 GHz, with high temporal resolution over a full-year period.</p>
doi:10.5194/essd-2020-44 fatcat:qpctulog4fc53l4lp46t67thxy