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Remote sensing of vegetation water content and soil moisture

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diagram of effects of soil moisture in California

Microwave remote sensing can be used to measure both soil moisture and vegetation water content. While traditionally, the vegetation signal was only used as a correction to improve soil moisture retrieval, the remote sensing community has slowly realized these vegetation datasets are also potentially informative! Our work focuses on the applications of vegetation water content determined from radar or radiometry. For most applications, we use vegetation optical depth (VOD) determined from passive spaceborne radiometers, which is proportional to vegetation water content. The group has both developed new VOD datasets (see Datasets page) and also uses VOD datasets produced by others that have longer time records (e.g. the LPDR dataset produced at the University of Montana). We create new datasets and use these datasets for a variety of application domains, including fire, drought-driven tree mortality, and more.

Selected Publications

Leaf surface water, not plant water stress, drives diurnal variation in tropical forest canopy water content

Xu, X., A.G. Konings, M. Longo, A. Feldman, L. Xu, S. Saatchi, D. Wu, J. Wu, and P. Moorcroft. Leaf surface water, not plant water stress, drives diurnal variation in tropical forest canopy water content (2021). New Phytologist, 231: 122-136.

L-band vegetation optical depth as an indicator of plant water potential in a temperate deciduous forest stand

N. Holtzman, L.D.L Anderegg, S. Kraatz, A. Mavrovic, O. Sonnentag, C. Pappas, M.H. Cosh, A. Langlois, T. Lakhankar, D. Tesser, N. Steiner, A. Colliander, A. Roy, and A.G. Konings (2021). L-band vegetation optical depth as an indicator of plant water potential in a temperate deciduous forest stand. Biogeosciences, 18:739-753.

SAR-enhanced mapping of live fuel moisture content

Rao, K., A.P. Williams, J. Fortin Flefil, and A.G. Konings (2020). SAR-enhanced mapping of live fuel moisture content. Remote Sensing of Environment, 245: 111797.

Satellite-based vegetation optical depth as an indicator of drought-driven tree mortality

 Rao, K., W.R.L. Anderegg, A. Sala, J. Martinez-Vilalta, and A.G. Konings (2019). Remote Sensing of Environment, 227: 125–36.

Macro to micro: microwave remote sensing of plant water content for physiology and ecology

Konings, A.G., K. Rao, and S.C. Steele-Dunne (2019). New Phytologist, 223: 1166-1172.

Interacting effects of leaf water potential and biomass on vegetation optical depth

Momen, M., J.D. Wood,  K.A. Novick, R. Pangle,  W.T. Pockman, N.G. McDowell, and A.G. Konings (2017). Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences, 122:3031-3046.

L-band vegetation optical depth and scattering albedo estimation from SMAP

Konings, A. G., M. Piles, N.N. Das, and D. Entekhabi (2017). Remote Sensing of Environment, 198: 460-470.

The Effect of Variable Soil Moisture Profiles on P-Band Backscatter

Konings, A. G., D. Entekhabi, M. Moghaddam, and S.S. Saatchi (2014). IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 52(10): 6315-6325.