Long term soil moisture mapping over the Tibetan plateau using Special Sensor Microwave/Imager
Abstract. This paper discusses soil moisture retrievals over the Tibetan Plateau from brightness temperature (TB's) observed by the Special Sensor Microwave Imagers (SSM/I's) during the warm seasons of the period from July 1987 to December 2008. The Fundamental Climate Data Record (FCDR) of F08, F11 and F13 SSM/I satellites by the Precipitation Research Group of Colorado State University is used for this study. A soil moisture retrieval algorithm is developed based on a radiative transfer model that simulates top-of-atmosphere TB's whereby effects of atmosphere are calculated from near-surface forcings obtained from a bias-corrected dataset. Validation of SSM/I retrievals against in situ measurements for a two-and-half year period (225 matchups) gives a Root Mean Squared Error of 0.046 m3 m−3. The agreement between retrievals and Noah simulations from the Global Land Data Assimilation System is investigated to further provide confidence in the reliability of SSM/I retrievals at the Plateau-scale.
Normalised soil moisture anomalies (N) are computed on a warm seasonal (May–October) and on a monthly basis to analyse the trends present within the products available from July 1987 to December 2008. The slope of linear regression functions between N and time is used to quantify the trends. Both the warm season and monthly N indicate severe wettings of 0.8 to almost 1.6 decade−1 in the centre of the Plateau. Correlations are found by the trend with elevation for the warm season as a whole and the individual months May, September and October. The observed wetting of the Tibetan Plateau agrees with recent findings on permafrost retreat, precipitation increase and potential evapotranspiration decline.