Towards SMOS: The 2006 National Airborne Field Experiment Plan

Jeffrey P. Walker, Olivier Merlin, Rocco Panciera and Jetse D. Kalma

Power Point Presentation

The 2006 National Airborne Field Experiment (NAFE) is the second in a series of two intensive experiments to be conducted in different parts of Australia. The NAFE’05 experiment was undertaken in the Goulburn River catchment during November 2005, with the objective to provide high resolution data for process level understanding of soil moisture retrieval, scaling and data assimilation. The NAFE’06 experiment will be undertaken in the Murrumbidgee catchment during November 2006, with the objective to provide data for SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) level soil moisture retrieval, downscaling and data assimilation. To meet this objective, PLMR (Polarimetric L-band Multibeam Radiometer) and supporting instruments (TIR and NDVI) will be flown at an altitude of 10,000 ft AGL to provide 1km resolution passive microwave data (and 20m TIR) across a 50km x 50km area every 2-3 days. This will both simulate a SMOS pixel and provide the 1km soil moisture data required for downscale verification, allowing downscaling and near-surface soil moisture assimilation techniques to be tested with remote sensing data which is consistent with that from current (MODIS) and planned (SMOS) satellite sensors.. Additionally, two transects will be flown across the area to provide both 1km multi-angular passive microwave data for SMOS algorithm development, and on the same day, 50m resolution passive microwave data for algorithm verification. The study area contains a total of 13 soil moisture profile and rainfall monitoring sites for assimilation verification, and the transect fight lines are planned to go through 5 of these. Ground monitoring of surface soil moisture and vegetation for algorithm verification will be targeted at these 5 focus farms, with soil moisture measurements made at 250m spacing for 1km resolution flights and 50m spacing for 50m resolution flights. While this experiment has a particular emphasis on the remote sensing of soil moisture, it is open for collaboration from interested scientists from all disciplines of environmental remote sensing and its application. See for more detailed information on these experiments.