An Analysis on Spatiotemporal Variations of Soil and Vegetation Moisture from a 29 year Satellite Derived Dataset over Mainland Australia

Y. Liu, A.I.J.M. van Dijk, R.A.M. de Jeu, T.R.H. Holmes

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    Abstract

    The spatiotemporal behavior of soil and vegetation moisture over mainland Australia was analyzed using passive microwave observations by four satellites going back to late 1978. Differences in measurement specifications prevented merging the data directly. A continuous product was developed for Australia by scaling percentiles of the cumulative moisture distribution within each grid cell to the percentiles of a reference sensor. The coefficient of correlation and root-mean-square error between rescaled values and the reference generally suggest good agreement. Using the merged data product, a strong El Nino-Southern Oscillation signal in near-surface hydrology across Australia was confirmed. Spatial patterns of trends in annual averages show that western and northwestern Australia have experienced an increase in vegetation moisture content, while the east and southeast experienced a decrease. Soil moisture showed a similar spatial pattern but with larger regions experiencing a decrease. This could be explained by decreasing rainfall and increasing potential evapotranspiration during the extended winter period (May-September). The results give us reasonable confidence in the time series of soil and vegetation moisture derived by the scaling method developed in this study. Development of a global data set along these lines should enable better estimation of hydrological variables and should increase understanding of the impacts of ocean circulations on terrestrial hydrology and vegetation dynamics. Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages12
    JournalWater Resources Research
    Volume45
    Issue numberW07405
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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