Articles | Volume 6, issue 2
30 Apr 2002
30 Apr 2002

Application of a plane-stratified emission model to predict the effects of vegetation in passive microwave radiometry

K. Lee, R. Chawn Harlow, E. J. Burke, and W. J. Shuttleworth

Abstract. This paper reports the application to vegetation canopies of a coherent model for the propagation of electromagnetic radiation through a stratified medium. The resulting multi-layer vegetation model is plausibly realistic in that it recognises the dielectric permittivity of the vegetation matter, the mixing of the dielectric permittivities for vegetation and air within the canopy and, in simplified terms, the overall vertical distribution of dielectric permittivity and temperature through the canopy. Any sharp changes in the dielectric profile of the canopy resulted in interference effects manifested as oscillations in the microwave brightness temperature as a function of canopy height or look angle. However, when Gaussian broadening of the top and bottom of the canopy (reflecting the natural variability between plants) was included within the model, these oscillations were eliminated. The model parameters required to specify the dielectric profile within the canopy, particularly the parameters that quantify the dielectric mixing between vegetation and air in the canopy, are not usually available in typical field experiments. Thus, the feasibility of specifying these parameters using an advanced single-criterion, multiple-parameter optimisation technique was investigated by automatically minimizing the difference between the modelled and measured brightness temperatures. The results imply that the mixing parameters can be so determined but only if other parameters that specify vegetation dry matter and water content are measured independently. The new model was then applied to investigate the sensitivity of microwave emission to specific vegetation parameters.

Keywords: passive microwave, soil moisture, vegetation, SMOS, retrieval