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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Spatial Variability of Soil Hydraulics and Remotely Sensed Soil Parameters1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 46 No. 2, p. 223-228
    Received: Dec 17, 1980
    Accepted: Aug 15, 1981

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  1. R. J. Lascano and
  2. C. H. M. Van Bavel2



The development of methods to correctly interpret remotely sensed information about soil moisture and soil temperature requires an understanding of water and energy flow in soil, because the signals originate from the surface, or from a shallow surface layer, but reflect processes in the entire profile. One formidable difficulty in this application of soil physics is the spatial heterogeneity of natural soils. Earlier work has suggested that the heterogeneity of soil hydraulic properties may be described by the frequency distribution of a single scale factor. The sensitivity of hydraulic and energetic processes to the variation of this scale factor is explored with a suitable numerical model. We believe that such an analysis can help in deciding how accurately and extensively basic physical properties of field soils need to be known in order to interpret thermal or radar waveband signals. It appears that the saturated hydraulic conductivity needs to be known only to its order of magnitude, and that the required accuracy of the soil water retention function is about 0.02 volume fraction. Furthermore, the results may be helpful in deciding how the total scene or view field, as perceived through a sensor, is composed from the actual mosaic of transient soil properties, such as surface temperature or surface soil moisture. However, the latter proposition presupposes a random distribution of permanent properties, a condition that may not be met in many instances, and no solution of the problem is apparent.

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