Observed Scaling Behavior of Snow and Soil Moisture Signatures from the CLPX and NAFE Campaigns

Edward Kim, Marco Tedesco, Jeffrey Walker and Rocco Panciera

Poster Presentation

Seasonal snow and soil moisture (SM) are important elements of the Earth’s water cycle, acting as storage elements and by modulating water and energy exchanges between the land surface and the atmosphere and space. Accurate estimates of snow water equivalent (SWE) and SM also play an important role in weather and climate models over a range of scales. There are many advantages for the retrieval of snow parameters using passive microwave sensors. However, the current scale mismatch between many high-resolution applications and available satellite snow sensor footprints (~25km) presents challenges. There is also a scale mismatch for planned L-band soil moisture satellite measurements with their large (50-100 km) passive microwave footprints. Combined radiometer-radar schemes are being explored as possible aids, but this is still an area of ongoing research. Retrieval accuracies are limited in part by complex, and potentially nonlinear relationships between SWE or SM and microwave emission signatures. We will use airborne and satellite observations from two field campaigns to examine the scaling behavior of brightness temperatures and SWE and SM across scales from 100 meters to 10’s of kilometers. The results will provide examples of the appropriate spatial sampling scales for new sensors, and guidance for downscaling schemes. The two campaigns are NASA’s Cold Land Processes Experiment-1 (CLPX-1: Colorado, 2002 & 2003), and the Australian National Airborne Field Experiment (NAFE, Nov, 2005). The analyses will also illustrate the roles and spatial scales of the underlying phenomena (e.g., vegetation, topography) that control subpixel heterogeneity.