Spatial and temporal variability of biophysical variables in southwestern France from airborne L-band radiometry
Abstract. In 2009 and 2010 the L-band microwave Cooperative Airborne Radiometer for Ocean and Land Studies (CAROLS) campaign was performed in southwestern France to support the calibration and validation of the new Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite mission. The L-band Microwave Emission of the Biosphere (L-MEB) model was used to retrieve surface soil moisture (SSM) and the vegetation optical depth (VOD) from the CAROLS brightness temperature measurements. The CAROLS SSM was compared with in situ observations at 11 sites of the SMOSMANIA (Soil Moisture Observing System-Meteorological Automatic Network Integrated Application) network of Météo-France. For eight of them, significant correlations were observed (0.51 ≤ r ≤ 0.82), with standard deviation of differences ranging from 0.039 m3 m−3 to 0.141 m3 m−3. Also, the CAROLS SSM was compared with SSM values simulated by the A-gs version of the Interactions between Soil, Biosphere and Atmosphere (ISBA-A-gs) model along 20 flight lines, at a resolution of 8 km × 8 km. A significant spatial correlation between these two datasets was observed for all the flights (0.36 ≤ r ≤ 0.85). The CAROLS VOD presented significant spatial correlations with the vegetation water content (VWC) derived from the spatial distribution of vegetation types used in ISBA-A-gs and from the Leaf Area Index (LAI) simulated for low vegetation. On the other hand, the CAROLS VOD presented little temporal changes, and no temporal correlation was observed with the simulated LAI. For low vegetation, the ratio of VOD to VWC tended to decrease, from springtime to summertime. The ISBA-A-gs grid cells (8 km × 8 km) were sampled every 5 m by CAROLS observations, at a spatial resolution of about 2 km. For 83% of the grid cells, the standard deviation of the sub-grid CAROLS SSM was lower than 0.05 m3 m−3. The presence of small water bodies within the ISBA-A-gs grid cells tended to increase the CAROLS SSM spatial variability, up to 0.10 m3 m−3. Also, the grid cells characterised by a high vegetation cover heterogeneity presented higher standard deviation values, for both SSM and VOD.