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ISRN Soil Science
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 424178, 33 pages
Review Article

Remote Sensing of Soil Moisture

Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA

Received 14 November 2012; Accepted 13 December 2012

Academic Editors: G. Benckiser, J. A. Entry, and Z. L. He

Copyright © 2013 Venkat Lakshmi. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Soil moisture is an important variable in land surface hydrology as it controls the amount of water that infiltrates into the soil and replenishes the water table versus the amount that contributes to surface runoff and to channel flow. However observations of soil moisture at a point scale are very sparse and observing networks are expensive to maintain. Satellite sensors can observe large areas but the spatial resolution of these is dependent on microwave frequency, antenna dimensions, and height above the earth’s surface. The higher the sensor, the lower the spatial resolution and at low elevations the spacecraft would use more fuel. Higher spatial resolution requires larger diameter antennas that in turn require more fuel to maintain in space. Given these competing issues most passive radiometers have spatial resolutions in 10s of kilometers that are too coarse for catchment hydrology applications. Most local applications require higher-spatial-resolution soil moisture data. Downscaling of the data requires ancillary data and model products, all of which are used here to develop high-spatial-resolution soil moisture for catchment applications in hydrology. In this paper the author will outline and explain the methodology for downscaling passive microwave estimation of soil moisture.