Moisture effects on soil reflectance

David B. Lobell, Gregory P. Asner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

586 Scopus citations


Models of soil reflectance under changing moisture conditions are needed to better quantify soil and vegetation properties from remote sensing. In this study, measurements of reflected shortwave radiation (400-2500 nm) were acquired in a laboratory setting for four different soils at various moisture contents. The observed changes in soil reflectance revealed a nonlinear dependence on moisture that was well described by an exponential model, and was similar for different soil types when moisture was expressed as degree of saturation. Reflectance saturated at much lower moisture contents in the visible and near-infrared (VNIR) spectral region than in the shortwave-infrared (SWIR) spectral region, suggesting that longer wavelengths are better suited for measuring volumetric moisture contents above ∼20%. To explore the potential of a general reflectance model based solely on dry reflectance and moisture, we employed a Monte Carlo analysis that accounted for observed variability in the measured spectra. Modeling results indicated that the SWIR region offers significant potential for relating moisture and reflectance on an operational basis, with uncertainties less than half as large as in the VNIR. The results of this study help to quantify the strong influence of moisture on spectral reflectance and absorption features, and should aid in the development of operational algorithms as well as more physically based models in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)722-727
Number of pages6
JournalSoil Science Society of America Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science


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