Articles | Volume 15, issue 1
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 345–358, 2011
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 345–358, 2011

Research article 26 Jan 2011

Research article | 26 Jan 2011

Soil surface moisture estimation over a semi-arid region using ENVISAT ASAR radar data for soil evaporation evaluation

M. Zribi1, A. Chahbi1,2, M. Shabou1,2, Z. Lili-Chabaane2, B. Duchemin1, N. Baghdadi3, R. Amri1,2, and A. Chehbouni1 M. Zribi et al.
  • 1CESBIO (CNRS/IRD/UPS/CNES), UMR 5126, 18 avenue Edouard Belin, BPI 2801, 31401 Toulouse cedex 9, France
  • 2INAT-LRSTE, 43, Avenue Charles Nicolle 1082, Tunis, Mahrajene, Tunisia
  • 3UMR-TETIS, CEMAGREF, Montpellier, France

Abstract. The present paper proposes a method for the evaluation of soil evaporation, using soil moisture estimations based on radar satellite measurements. We present firstly an approach for the estimation and monitoring of soil moisture in a semi-arid region in North Africa, using ENVISAT ASAR images, over two types of vegetation covers. The first mapping process is dedicated solely to the monitoring of moisture variability related to rainfall events, over areas in the "non-irrigated olive tree" class of land use. The developed approach is based on a simple linear relationship between soil moisture and the backscattered radar signal normalised at a reference incidence angle. The second process is proposed over wheat fields, using an analysis of moisture variability due to both rainfall and irrigation. A semi-empirical model, based on the water-cloud model for vegetation correction, is used to retrieve soil moisture from the radar signal. Moisture mapping is carried out over wheat fields, showing high variability between irrigated and non-irrigated wheat covers. This analysis is based on a large database, including both ENVISAT ASAR and simultaneously acquired ground-truth measurements (moisture, vegetation, roughness), during the 2008–2009 vegetation cycle. Finally, a semi-empirical approach is proposed in order to relate surface moisture to the difference between soil evaporation and the climate demand, as defined by the potential evaporation. Mapping of the soil evaporation is proposed.