Improvement of microwave emissivity parameterization of frozen Arctic soils using roughness measurements derived from photogrammetry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Julien Meloche
  • Alain Royer
  • Alexandre Langlois
  • Nick Rutter
  • Vincent Sasseville

External departments

  • Université de Sherbrooke
  • Nordic Studies Center


Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Digital Earth
Early online date26 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Oct 2020
Publication type

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soil emissivity of Arctic regions is a key parameter for assessing surface properties from microwave brightness temperature (Tb) measurements. Particularly in winter, frozen soil permittivity and roughness are two poorly characterized unknowns that must be considered. Here, we show that after removing snow, the 3D soil roughness can be accurately inferred from in-situ
photogrammetry using Structure from Motion (SfM). We focus on using SfM techniques to provide accurate roughness measurements and improve emissivity models parametrization of frozen arctic soil for microwave applications. Validation was performed from ground-based radiometric measurements at 19 and 37 GHz using three different soil emission models: the
Wegmüller and Mätzler (1999) model (Weg99), the Wang and Choudhury (1981) model (QNH), and a geometrical optics model (Geo Optics). Measured and simulated brightness temperatures over different tundra and rock sites in the Canadian High Arctic show that Weg99, parametrized with SfM-based roughness and optimized permittivity (휀), yielded a RMSE of 3.1 K (푅2 = 0.71) for all frequencies and polarizations. Our SfM based approach allowed us to measure roughness with 0.1 mm accuracy at 55 locations of different land cover type using a digital camera and metal plates of know dimensions.