Temporal monitoring of the soil freeze-thaw cycles over a snow-covered surface by using air-launched ground-penetrating radar

by Jadoon KZ, Weihermüller L, McCabe MF, Moghadas D, Vereecken H, Lambot S
Year: 2015


Jadoon KZ, Weihermüller L, McCabe MF, Moghadas D, Vereecken H and Lambot S (2015)
Remote Sensing 7(9): 12041-12056.


We tested an off-ground ground-penetrating radar (GPR) system at a fixed location over a bare agricultural field to monitor the soil freeze-thaw cycles over a snow-covered surface. The GPR system consisted of a monostatic horn antenna combined with a vector network analyzer, providing an ultra-wideband stepped-frequency continuous-wave radar. An antenna calibration experiment was performed to filter antenna and back scattered effects from the raw GPR data. Near the GPR setup, sensors were installed in the soil to monitor the dynamics of soil temperature and dielectric permittivity at different depths. The soil permittivity was retrieved via inversion of time domain GPR data focused on the surface reflection. Significant effects of soil dynamics were observed in the time-lapse GPR, temperature and dielectric permittivity measurements. In particular, five freeze and thaw events were clearly detectable, indicating that the GPR signals respond to the contrast between the dielectric permittivity of frozen and thawed soil. The GPR-derived permittivity was in good agreement with sensor observations. Overall, the off-ground nature of the GPR system permits non-invasive time-lapse observation of the soil freeze-thaw dynamics without disturbing the structure of the snow cover. The proposed method shows promise for the real-time mapping and monitoring of the shallow frozen layer at the field scale.


Ground-penetrating radar Freeze-thaw cycles Seasonal snow cover Inversion