Effects of soil moisture and water depth on ERS SAR backscatter measurements from an Alaskan wetland complex

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We conducted a preliminary investigation of the response of ERS C-band SAR backscatter to variations in soil moisture and surface inundation in wetlands of interior Alaska. Data were collected from 5 wetlands over a three-week period in 2007. Results showed a positive correlation between backscatter and soil moisture in sites dominated by herbaceous vegetation cover (r = 0.74, p < 0.04). ERS SAR backscatter was negatively correlated to water depth in all open (non-forested) wetlands when water table levels were more than 6 cm above the wetland surface (r = − 0.82, p < 0.001). There was no relationship between backscatter and soil moisture in the forested (black spruce-dominated) wetland site. Our preliminary results show that ERS SAR data can be used to monitor variations in hydrologic conditions in high northern latitude wetlands (including peatlands), particularly sites with sparse tree cover.

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© 2009 Elsevier Inc. Publsiher's version or record: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2009.04.006

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Remote Sensing of Environment