Author(s): James R Wang
This paper studies the depth to which soil moisture can be directly estimated with microwave measurements over smooth bare fields. The analyses are based on both theoretical and experimental considerations at the frequencies of 1.4, 5.0, and 10.7 GHz. Radiative transfer calculations of microwave emissivities at these frequencies are performed with a number of moisture profiles measured for two soils. The calculated emissivities are compared with those derived from the Fresnel equation to deduce the microwave sampling depth in soils. The data acquired from the ground-level radiometric measurements during the summers of 1979-1981 are examined and compared with the theoretical retical analysis. Both theoretical and experimental analyses lead to the conclusion that the microwave sampling depth in soils is about one tenth of the wavelength of observation. It is shown that the moisture content at any depth near the surface of a smooth soil can be estimated, in principle, by a combination of a radiometric measurement and a curve generated by the Fresnel equation at an appropriate frequency, provided that the texture of the soil is known.