EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Mapping surface soil moisture over wheat crops in southern Mediterranean regions using the backscattering coefficient and the interferometric coherence derived from Sentinel-1

Nadia Ouaadi1,2, Lionel Jarlan2, Jamal Ezzahar3,4, Saïd Khabba1,4, Mehrez Zribi2, Elhoussaine Bouras2,5, Safa Bousbih2,6, and Pierre-Louis Frison7
Nadia Ouaadi et al.
  • 1Cadi Ayyad University, FSSM, LMME, Marrakech,Morocco (
  • 2University of Toulouse,CESBIO, IRD/CNRS/UPS/CNES, Toulouse, France
  • 3Cadi Ayyad University, ENSA, MTI, Safi, Morocco
  • 4University Mohammed VI Polytechnic, CRSA, BenGuerir, Morocco
  • 5Cadi Ayyad University, FSTG , LP2M2E, Marrakech, Morocco.
  • 6National Institute of Agronomy of Tunis, INAT, GREEN-TEAM, Tunis, Tunisia.
  • 7University of Paris-Est, IGN, LaSTIG//MATWAS, Champs sur Marne, Paris, France.

High spatial and temporal resolution products of Sentinel-1 are used for surface soil moisture (SSM) mapping over wheat fields in semi-arid areas. Within these regions, monitoring the water-use is a critical aspect for optimizing the management of the limited water resources via irrigation monitoring. SSM is one of the principal quantities affecting microwave remote sensing. This sensitivity has been exploited to estimate SSM from radar data, which has the advantages of providing data independent of illumination and weather conditions. In addition, with the use of Sentinel-1 products, the spatial and temporal resolution is greatly improved. Within this context, the main objective of this work is estimate SSM over wheat fields using an approach based on the use of C-band Sentinel-1 radar data only. Over the study site, field measurement are collected during 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 growing seasons over two fields of winter wheat with drip irrigation located in the Haouz plain in the center of Morocco. Data of other sites in Morocco and Tunisia are taken for validation purposes. The validation database contains a total number of 20 plots divided between irrigated and rainfed wheat plots. Two different information extracted from Sentinel-1 products are used: the backscattering coefficient and the interferometric coherence. A total number of 408 GRD and 419 SLC images were processed for computing the backscattering coefficient and the interferometric coherence, respectively. The analysis of Sentinel-1 time series over the study site show that coherence is sensitive to the development of wheat, while the backscatter coefficient is widely linked to changes in surface soil moisture. Later on, the Water Cloud Model coupled with the Oh et al, 1992 model were used for better understand the backscattering mechanism of wheat canopies. The coupled model is calibrated and validated over the study site and it proved to goodly enough reproduce the Sentinel-1 backscatter with RMSE ranging from 1.5 to 2.52 dB for VV and VH using biomass as a descriptor of wheat. On the other side, the analysis show that coherence is well correlated to biomass. Thus, the calibrated model is used in an inversion algorithm to retrieve SSM using the Sentinel-1 backscatter and coherence as inputs. The results of inversion show that the proposed new approach is able to retrieve the surface soil moisture at 35.2° for VV, with R=0.82, RMSE=0.05m3/m3 and no bias. Using the validation database of Morocco and Tunisia, R is always greater than 0.7 and RMSE and bias are less than 0.008 m3/m3 and 0.03 m3/m3, respectively even that the incidence angle is higher (40°). In order to assess its quality, the approach is compared to four SSM retrieval methods that use radar and optical data in empirical and semi-empirical approaches. Results indicate that the proposed approach shows an improvement of SSM retrieval between 17% and 42% compared to other methods. Finally, the validated new approach is used for SSM mapping, with a spatial resolution of 10*10 m, over irrigated perimeters of wheat in Morocco.

How to cite: Ouaadi, N., Jarlan, L., Ezzahar, J., Khabba, S., Zribi, M., Bouras, E., Bousbih, S., and Frison, P.-L.: Mapping surface soil moisture over wheat crops in southern Mediterranean regions using the backscattering coefficient and the interferometric coherence derived from Sentinel-1, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-7408,, 2020

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