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Retrieving High-Resolution Surface Soil Moisture by Downscaling AMSR-E Brightness Temperature Using MODIS LST and NDVI Data



A method to retrieve soil moisture at high spatial resolution is presented in this paper. The method is based on soil moisture retrieval with passive brightness temperature. The method of retrieving land surface temperature with passive microwave is combined with the relationship between the microwave polarization difference index (MPDI) and normalized difference of vegetation index (NDVI) to obtain high-resolution microwave brightness temperature and soil moisture. Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer—Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) 18.7-GHz brightness temperature at 25-km resolution is downscaled to 1-km using high-resolution MODIS visible/infrared (VIS/IR) data. High-resolution soil moisture is retrieved with the downscaled microwave brightness temperature using a single-channel algorithm (SCA) and the Qp model to deal with the influence of roughness. The method is applied to an area in northwest of China. The downscaled high-resolution soil moisture is tested with ground data collected at three sites within the Maqu monitoring network from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009. The trend of the time series of the downscaled soil moisture is similar to the ground measurements during this period with root mean-square error (RMSE) less than 0.12. The results show that the method is more suitable to moderate to drier soil conditions with bare surface or covered by sparse vegetation.


  • Downscaling
  • high resolution
  • microwave brightness temperature
  • soil moisture


Song CY, Jia L, Menenti M. Retrieving high-resolution surface soil moisture by downscaling AMSR-E brightness temperature using MODIS LST and NDVI data. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 2013.

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