The National Airborne Field Experiment 2006 (NAFE'06) Dataset

Rocco Panciera, Jeffrey P. Walker, Olivier Merlin, Jetse Kalma, Ed Kim and Jorg Hacker

Poster Presentation

Remote sensing technology has a huge potential for improving hydrologic prediction through soil moisture measurement. This is particularly so given that the first dedicated soil moisture satellite, the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission, is to be launched in late 2007. However, targeted field experiments must be undertaken and the data analysed prior to launch so that immediate use can be made of this data when it becomes available. Consequently, the National Airborne Field Experiment was conducted in the Murrumbidge catchment, located in south-eastern Australia, during November 2006 (NAFE'06). The intent of this experiment was to provide simulated SMOS observations supported by ground measurement of soil moisture and other relevant ground data for i) development of the SMOS retrieval algorithms, ii) developing approaches for downscaling the low resolution data from SMOS to 1km resolution, and iii) testing its assimilation into land surface models for root zone soil moisture retrieval. This paper describes the NAFE'06 data set. The SMOS-type data were collected using a Polarimetric L-band Multi-beam Radiometer (PLMR), together with supporting instruments (thermal imager, tri-spectral scanner, lidar and digital photograph). Flights included 1km resolution passive microwave data across the main 40km x 55km Yanco study area every 2-3 days, for simulation of a SMOS pixel, verification of downscaling techniques and assimilation, and a transect across the area twice a week to provide both 500m multi-angular passive microwave data for SMOS algorithm development and 50m resolution passive microwave data for algorithm verification. This was done alternatively at 6am and 6pm, so that both SMOS overpass times could be tested. A medium resolution flight (250m for PLMR) was also performed once per week across an irrigated portion of the Yanco study area to study the effect of standing water on microwave emission. The NDVI, lidar and aerial photo supporting observations were collected once along the Yanco transect and medium resolution areas during cloud-free conditions. The data described in this paper will soon be available on the World Wide Web at