GPS Solutions

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 173–177 | Cite as

Using GPS multipath to measure soil moisture fluctuations: initial results

  • Kristine M. Larson
  • Eric E. Small
  • Ethan Gutmann
  • Andria Bilich
  • Penina Axelrad
  • John Braun
Original Article

Abstract

Measurements of soil moisture are important for studies of climate and weather forecasting, flood prediction, and aquifer recharge studies. Although soil moisture measurement networks exist, most are sparsely distributed and lack standardized instrumentation. Measurements of soil moisture from satellites have extremely large spatial footprints (40–60 km). A methodology is described here that uses existing networks of continuously-operating GPS receivers to measure soil moisture fluctuations. In this technique, incoming signals are reflected off and attenuated by the ground before reception by the GPS receiver. These multipath reflections directly affect signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) data routinely collected by GPS receivers, creating amplitude variations that are a function of ground reflectivity and therefore soil moisture content. After describing this technique, multipath reflection amplitudes at a GPS site in Tashkent, Uzbekistan are compared to estimates of soil moisture from the Noah land surface model. Although the GPS multipath amplitudes and the land surface model are uncalibrated, over the 70-day period studied, they both rise sharply following each rainfall event and slowly decrease over a period of ∼10 days.

Keywords

GPS Multipath SNR Soil moisture 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by National Aeronautics and Space Administration SENH 154–0351. National Science Foundation EAR-0003943 and EAR-0337206 also contributed to its development. We are grateful to the operators of TASH and GFZ (Markus Ramatschi) for providing data and information about the site. The TASH data are available from CDDIS.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristine M. Larson
    • 1
  • Eric E. Small
    • 2
  • Ethan Gutmann
    • 2
  • Andria Bilich
    • 1
  • Penina Axelrad
    • 1
  • John Braun
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Aerospace Engineering SciencesUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  3. 3.UCARBoulderUSA

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