Critical analysis of thermal inertia approaches for surface soil water content retrieval

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The “thermal inertia” method to retrieve surface soil water content maps on bare or sparsely-vegetated soils is analysed. The study area is a small experimental watershed, where optical and thermal images (in day and night time) and in situ data were simultaneously acquired. The sensitivity of thermal inertia to the phase difference between incoming radiation and soil temperature is demonstrated. Thus, to obtain an accurate value of the phase difference, the temporal distance between thermographs using a three-temperature approach is evaluated. We highlight when a cosine correction of the temperature needs to be applied, depending on whether the thermal inertia formulation includes two generic acquisition times, or not. Finally, the deviation in soil water content retrieval is quantifies for given values of each parameter by performing a sensitivity analysis on the basic parameters of the thermal inertia method that are usually affected by calibration errors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1144-1161
Number of pages18
JournalHydrological Sciences Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2013


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology

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