Articles | Volume 16, issue 10
Research article
16 Oct 2012
Research article |  | 16 Oct 2012

An algorithm for generating soil moisture and snow depth maps from microwave spaceborne radiometers: HydroAlgo

E. Santi, S. Pettinato, S. Paloscia, P. Pampaloni, G. Macelloni, and M. Brogioni

Abstract. A systematic and timely monitoring of land surface parameters that affect the hydrological cycle at local and global scales is of primary importance in obtaining a better understanding of geophysical processes and in managing environmental resources as well as natural disasters. Soil moisture and snow water equivalent are two quantities that play a major role in these applications. In this paper an algorithm for hydrological purposes (called hereinafter HydroAlgo), which is able to generate maps of snow depth (SD) and soil moisture content (SMC) from AMSR-E data, has been developed and implemented within the framework of the JAXA ADEOS-II/AMSR-E and GCOM/AMSR-2 programs, as well as of a project of the Italian Space Agency that is devoted to civil protection from floods and landslides. As auxiliary output, the algorithm also generates maps of vegetation biomass (VB). An initial phase of pre-processing includes the improvement of spatial resolution, as well as masking for urban areas, water bodies, and dense vegetation. The algorithm was then split into two branches, the first of which focused on the retrieval of SMC and the second, on SD. Both parameters were retrieved using Artificial Neural Network (ANN) methods. The algorithm was calibrated using a wide set of experimental data collected on three sites: Mongolia and Australia (for SMC), and Siberia (for SD), integrated with model simulations. These results were then validated by comparing the algorithm outputs with experimental data collected on two additional sites: a part of a watershed in Northern Italy, and a large portion of Scandinavia. An additional test of the algorithm was also performed on a large scale, and included sites characterized by differing climatic and meteorological conditions.