A soil wetness index for optical satellite images, the TransformedWetness Index (TWI) is defined and evaluated against ground sampled soil moisture. Conceptually, TWI is formulated as a non-linear normalized difference index from orthogonalized vectors representing soil and water conditions, with the vegetation signal removed. Compared to 745 ground sites with in situ measured soil moisture, TWI has a globally estimated Random Mean Square Error of 14.0 (v/v expressed as percentage), which reduces to 8.5 for unbiased data. The temporal variation in soil moisture is significantly captured at 4 out of 10 stations, but also fails for 2 to 3 out of 10 stations. TWI is biased by different soil mineral compositions, dense vegetation and shadows, with the latter two most likely also causing the failure of TWI to capture soil moisture dynamics. Compared to soil moisture products from microwave brightness temperature data, TWI performs slightly worse, but has the advantages of not requiring ancillary data, higher spatial resolution and a relatively simple application. TWI has been used for wetland and peatland mapping in previously published studies but is presented in detail in this article, and then applied for detecting changes in soil moisture for selected tropical regions between 2001 and 2016. Sites with significant changes are compared to a published map of global tropical wetlands and peatlands. © 2018 by the authors.
- Authors: Gumbricht, T.
- Author Affiliation: Karttur AB
- Subjects: soil moisture, wetlands, peatlands, remote sensing, mapping, tropics
- Publication type: Journal Article
- Source: Remote Sensing 10(4): 611
- Year: 2018
- DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10040611