Azimuth angle modulation, Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I), Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI), ergs, microwave emission, polarization difference, radiometric temperature, sand dunes


Sand seas (ergs) of the Sahara are the most dynamic parts of the desert. Aeolian erosion, transportation, and deposition continue to reshape the surface of the ergs. The large-scale features (dunes) of these bedforms reflect the characteristics of the sand and the long-term wind. Radiometric emissions from the ergs have strong dependence on the surface geometry. We model the erg surface as composed of tilted rough facets. Each facet is characterized by a tilt distribution dependent upon the surface roughness of the facet. The radiometric temperature (Tb) of ergs is then the weighted sum of the Tb from all the facets. We use dual-polarization Tb measurements at 19 and 37 GHz from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager aboard the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program and the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Microwave Imager to analyze the radiometric response of erg surfaces and compare them to the model results. The azimuth angle (∅) modulation of Tb is caused by the surface geometrical characteristics. It is found that longitudinal and transverse dune fields are differentiable based on their polarization difference (Tb) ∅-modulation, which reflects type and orientation of dune facets. ∆Tb measurements at 19 and 37 GHz provide consistent results. The magnitude of ∆Tb at 37 GHz is lower than at 19 GHz due to higher attenuation. The analysis of ∆Tb over dry sand provides a unique insight into radiometric emission over ergs.

Original Publication Citation

Stephen, H., and D. G. Long. "Modeling Microwave Emissions of Erg Surfaces in the Sahara Desert." Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on 43.12 (25): 2822-3

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Electrical and Computer Engineering