The European Physical Journal Applied Physics

Instrumentation and Metrology

Electromagnetic characterization of soil-litter media: application to the simulation of the microwave emissivity of the ground surface in forests

F. Demontouxa1, B. Le Croma1a2, G. Ruffiéa1, J. P. Wignerona2, J. P. Granta2a3, V. L. Mironova4 and H. Lawrencea1a2

Université Bordeaux 1, Laboratoire IMS-UMR 5218, 16 avenue Pey-Berland, 33607 Pessac, France

INRA-Unité de Bioclimatologie, BP 81, 33883 Villenave d'Ornon Cedex, France

Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 1085 De Boelelaan, Holland

Radiophysics of Remote Sensing Laboratory, Kirensky Institute of Physics, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russian


In order to improve our knowledge of the emitted signal of forests at L-band (1.4 GHz) we focused this study on permittivity measurements of heterogenic natural media such as soil or litter consisting of plant debris and organic matter. This study was done in the context of the upcoming SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) satellite mission that will attempt to map surface soil moisture from L-band (1.4 GHz) passive microwave measurements. In the field of passive microwaves, very little information exists about the behaviour of the L-band signal of forests especially when litter is included in the soil-vegetation system. To date very few analyses have investigated the dielectric behaviour of the litter layer and its influence on the microwave emission of forests is generally neglected.

(Received March 29 2007)

(Revised December 3 2007)

(Accepted August 25 2008)

(Online publication December 6 2008)


  • 06.20.Dk – Measurement and error theory;
  • 77.22.-d – Dielectric properties of solids and liquids;
  • 93.90.+y – Other topics in geophysical observations, instrumentation, and techniques (restricted to new topics in section 93)