Articles | Volume 12, issue 3
23 May 2008
 | 23 May 2008

Comparison of soil moisture fields estimated by catchment modelling and remote sensing: a case study in South Africa

T. Vischel, G. G. S. Pegram, S. Sinclair, W. Wagner, and A. Bartsch

Abstract. The paper compares two independent approaches to estimate soil moisture at the regional scale over a 4625 km2 catchment (Liebenbergsvlei, South Africa). The first estimate is derived from a physically-based hydrological model (TOPKAPI). The second estimate is derived from the scatterometer on board the European Remote Sensing satellite (ERS). Results show a good correspondence between the modelled and remotely sensed soil moisture, particularly with respect to the soil moisture dynamic, illustrated over two selected seasons of 8 months, yielding regression R2 coefficients lying between 0.68 and 0.92. Such a close similarity between these two different, independent approaches is very promising for (i) remote sensing in general (ii) the use of hydrological models to back-calculate and disaggregate the satellite soil moisture estimate and (iii) for hydrological models to assimilate the remotely sensed soil moisture.