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Sensitivity analysis is critically needed to better understand the microwave emission model for soil moisture retrieval using passive microwave remote sensing data. The vegetation b-factor along with vegetation water content and surface characteristics has significant impact in model prediction. This study evaluates the sensitivity of the b-factor, which is function of vegetation type. The analysis is carried out using Passive and Active L and S-band airborne sensor (PALS) and measured field soil moisture from Southern Great Plains experiment (SGP99). The results show that the relative sensitivity of the b-factor is 86% in wet soil condition and 88% in high vegetated condition compared to the sensitivity of the soil moisture. Apparently, the b-factor is found to be more sensitive than the vegetation water content, surface roughness and surface temperature; therefore, the effect of the b-factor is fairly large to the microwave emission in certain conditions. Understanding the dependence of the b-factor on the soil and vegetation is important in studying the soil moisture retrieval algorithm, which can lead to potential improvements in model development for the Soil Moisture Active-Passive (SMAP) mission.


This article originally appeared in Remote Sensing, available at DOI: 10.3390/rs2051273

© 2010 by the authors. This article is an open-access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (



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