A number of studies have shown the feasibility of estimating surface soil moisture from L-band passive microwave measurements. Such measurements should be acquired in the near future by the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission. The SMOS measurements will be done at many incidence angles and two polarizations. This multiconfiguration capability could be very useful in soil moisture retrieval studies for decoupling between the effects of soil moisture and of the various surface parameters that also influence the surface emission (surface temperature, vegetation attenuation, soil roughness, etc.). The possibility to implement -parameter (N-P) retrieval methods (where N = 2, 3, 4,..., corresponds to the number of parameters that are retrieved) was investigated in this study based on experimental datasets acquired over a variety of crop fields. A large number of configurations of the N-P retrievals were studied, using several initializations of the model input parameters that were considered to be fixed or free. The best general configuration using no ancillary information (same configuration for all datasets) provided an rms error of about 0.059 m(3)/m(3) in the soil moisture retrievals. If a priori information was available on soil roughness and at least one vegetation model parameter, the rms error decreased to 0.049 m(3)/m(3). Using specific retrieval configurations for each dataset, the rms error was generally lower than 0.04 m(3)/m(3).
Ieee Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 2004, Vol 42, Issue 6, p. 1168-1178