Vreugdenhil, M., Hahn, S., Melzer, T., Bauer-Marschallinger, B., Reimer, C., Dorigo, W. A., & Wagner, W. (2017). Assessing Vegetation Dynamics Over Mainland Australia With Metop ASCAT. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 10(5), 2240–2248. https://doi.org/10.34726/1621
Recently, the slope and curvature estimation of the backscatter-incidence angle relationship within the TU Wien retrieval algorithm has been improved. Where previously only climatologies of the slope and curvature parameters were available, i.e., one value for every day of year, slope and curvature are now calculated for every day. This enables the retrieval of time series of vegetation optical depth (τa) from backscatter observations. This study demonstrates the ability to detect interannual variability in vegetation dynamics using τa derived from backscatter provided by the advanced scatterometer on-board Metop-A. τa time series over Australia for the period 2007-2014 are compared to leaf area index (LAI) from SPOT-VEGETATION by calculating the rank correlation coefficient (rs) for original time series and anomalies. High values for rs are found over bare soil and sparse vegetation in central Australia with median rs values of 0.78 and 0.58, respectively. Forests and ephemeral lakes and rivers impact the retrieval of τa, and the negative values for rs are found in these areas. Looking at the annual averages of τa, LAI, and surface soil moisture, significantly high values are found for the anomalously wet years 2010 and 2011. Patterns in the increased τa correspond to regions with increased soil moisture and LAI. Values for τa and LAI are anomalous especially in sparsely vegetated regions, where the flush of grasses increases τa and LAI. Regions with enough precipitation and higher woody vegetation component show a smaller increase in 2010 and 2011. This study demonstrates the skill of τa, and subsequently of scatterometers, to monitor the vegetation dynamics thanks to the multiincidence angle observation capability.