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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  10 Jul 2020

10 Jul 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Soil dielectric characterization at L-band microwave frequencies during freeze-thaw transitions

Alex Mavrovic1,2, Renato Pardo Lara3, Aaron Berg3, François Demontoux4, Alain Royer5,2, and Alexandre Roy1,2 Alex Mavrovic et al.
  • 1Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, Québec, G9A 5H7, Canada
  • 2Centre d'Études Nordiques, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, G1V 0A6, Canada
  • 3University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada
  • 4Laboratoire de l'Intégration du Matériau au Système, Bordeaux, 33400 Talence, France
  • 5Centre d'Applications et de Recherches en Télédétection, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec, J1K 2R1, Canada

Abstract. Soil microwave permittivity is a crucial parameter in passive microwave retrieval algorithms but remains a challenging variable to measure. To validate and improve satellite microwave data products, precise and reliable estimations of the relative permittivity (ɛr = ɛ / ɛ0 = ɛ’ - jɛ’’; unitless) of soils are required, particularly for frozen soils. In this study, permittivity measurements were acquired using two different instruments: the newly designed open-ended coaxial probe (OECP) and the conventional Stevens HydraProbe. Both instruments were used to characterize the permittivity of soil samples undergoing several freeze/thaw cycles in a laboratory environment. The measurements were compared to soil permittivity models. We show that the OECP is a suitable device for measuring frozen (ɛ’frozen = [3.5;6.0], ɛ’’frozen = [0.4;1.2]) and thawed (ɛ’thawed = [6.5;22.8], ɛ’’thawed = [1.4;5.7]) soil microwave permittivity. We also demonstrate that cheaper and widespread soil permittivity probes operating at lower frequencies (i.e. Stevens HydraProbe) can be used to estimate microwave permittivity given proper calibration relative to an L-band (1–2 GHz) probe. This study also highlighted the need to improve dielectric soil models, particularly during freeze/thaw transitions. There are still important discrepancies between in situ and modelled estimates and no current model accounts for the hysteresis effect shown between freezing and thawing processes which could have a significant impact on freeze/thaw detection from satellites.

Alex Mavrovic et al.

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Alex Mavrovic et al.

Alex Mavrovic et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This paper presents a new probe that measure soil microwave permittivity in the frequency range of satellite L-band sensors. The probe capacities will allow for validation and calibration of the models used to estimates landscape physical properties from raw microwave satellite datasets. Our results show important discrepancies between model estimates and instrument measurements that will need to be address.
This paper presents a new probe that measure soil microwave permittivity in the frequency range...