Freeze-thaw (FT) and moisture dynamics within the soil active layer are critical elements of boreal, arctic and alpine ecosystems, and environmental change assessments. We evaluated the potential for detecting dielectric changes within different soil layers using combined L- and P-band radar remote sensing as a prerequisite for detecting FT and moisture profile changes within the soil active layer. A two-layer scattering model was developed and validated for simulating radar responses from vertically inhomogeneous soil. The model simulations indicated that inhomogeneity in the soil dielectric profile contributes to both L- and P-band backscatter, but with greater P-band sensitivity at depth. The difference in L- and P-band responses to soil dielectric profile inhomogeneity appears suitable for detecting associated changes in soil active layer conditions. Additional evaluation using collocated airborne radar (AIRSAR) observations and in situ soil moisture measurements over alpine tundra indicates that combined L- and P-band SAR observations are sensitive to soil dielectric profile heterogeneity associated with variations in soil moisture and FT conditions.
- Soil active layer