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Two types of Soil Vegetation Atmosphere Transfer (SVAT) modeling approaches can be applied to monitor root-zone soil moisture in agricultural landscapes. Water and Energy Balance (WEB) SVAT modeling is based on forcing a prognostic root-zone water balance model with observed rainfall and predicted evapotranspiration. In contrast, thermal Remote Sensing (RS) observations of surface radiometric temperature (TR) are integrated into purely diagnostic RS-SVAT models to predict the onset of vegetation water stress. While RS-SVAT models do not explicitly monitor soil moisture, they can be used in the calculation of thermal-based proxy variables for the availability of soil water in the root zone. Using four growing seasons (2001 to 2004) of profile soil moisture, micro-meteorology, and surface radiometric temperature measurements at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Optimizing Production Inputs for Economic and Environmental Enhancements (OPE3) study site in Beltsville, MD, prospects for improving WEB-SVAT root-zone soil water predictions via the assimilation of diagnostic RS-SVAT soil moisture proxy information are examined. Results illustrate the potential advantages of such an assimilation approach relative to the competing approach of directly assimilating TR measurements. Since TR measurements used in the analysis are tower-based (and not obtained from a remote platform), a sensitivity analysis demonstrates the potential impact of remote sensing limitations on the value of the RS-SVAT proxy. Overall, results support a potential role for RS-SVAT modeling strategies in improving WEB-SVAT model characterization of root-zone soil moisture.
Journal: Remote Sensing of Environment - Volume 112, Issue 4, 15 April 2008, Pages 1268–1281