The Added Value of the VH/VV Polarization-Ratio for Global Soil Moisture Estimations From Scatterometer Data
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The successor to the current series of Metop advanced scatterometers (ASCATs), the Metop-SG SCA, will be able to record data in dual-polarization, at C-band. The aim of this study is to investigate if the information contained in the added cross-polarization measurements can improve the vegetation parameterization for the estimation of the soil moisture content. In case of the operational Hydrology Satellite Application Facility Metop ASCAT soil moisture product, vegetation dynamics are characterized by the relationship between radar backscattering intensity and the incidence angle, the so-called SLOPE parameter. Building on findings from previous studies, the assumption is that the polarization ratio, i.e., VH/VV, could improve this characterization. To verify this assumption, flexible approaches, able to integrate a combination of ASCAT VV data and AQUARIUS (NASA) VH/VV data were required. Two machine learning methods were chosen: Support-vector-regression and artificial-neural-networks, and one statistical approach, the Bayesian-Regression. Each of these methods were used to derive models with different input configurations, with and without characterization of vegetation. The results show that the information contained in the SLOPE parameter and in PR are similar. Based on a global average, almost identical SMC retrieval accuracies were achieved. Despite that, analysis of the temporal dynamics of SLOPE and PR revealed certain location specific differences, which affect the spatial distribution of SMC retrieval accuracies. As a result, improvements based on the combination of the two parameters are minor overall, but they can be significant locally.