Response of sub-daily L-band backscatter to internal and surface canopy water dynamics

P.C. Vermunt, S. Khabbazan, S.C. Steele-Dunne, Jasmeet Judge, Alejandro Monsivais-Huertero, Leila Guerriero, Pang Wei Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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The latest developments in radar mission concepts suggest that subdaily synthetic aperture radar will become available in the next decades. The goal of this study was to demonstrate the potential value of subdaily spaceborne radar for monitoring vegetation water dynamics, which is essential to understand the role of vegetation in the climate system. In particular, we aimed to quantify fluctuations of internal and surface canopy water (SCW) and understand their effect on subdaily patterns of L-band backscatter. An intensive field campaign was conducted in north-central Florida, USA, in 2018. A truck-mounted polarimetric L-band scatterometer was used to scan a sweet corn field multiple times per day, from sowing to harvest. SCW (dew, interception), soil moisture, and plant and soil hydraulics were monitored every 15 min. In addition, regular destructive sampling was conducted to measure seasonal and diurnal variations of internal vegetation water content. The results showed that backscatter was sensitive to both transient rainfall interception events, and slower daily cycles of internal canopy water and dew. On late-season days without rainfall, maximum diurnal backscatter variations of >2 dB due to internal and SCW were observed in all polarizations. These results demonstrate a potentially valuable application for the next generation of spaceborne radar missions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7322-7337
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Backscatter
  • L-band
  • corn
  • dew
  • diurnal
  • ground-based
  • interception
  • sap flow
  • scatterometer
  • subdaily radar
  • vegetation
  • water content.


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