- Soil moisture -- Measurement,
- Remote sensing,
- Soil salinity,
- Soil mapping,
- Antarctica -- Discovery & exploration
Soil moisture is a spatially heterogeneous quantity in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica that exerts a large influence on the biological community and on the thermal state of Dry Valleys permafrost. The goal of this project was to determine whether hyperspectral remote sensing techniques could be used to determine soil moisture conditions in the Dry Valleys. We measured the spectral reflectance factors of wetted soil samples from the Dry Valleys under natural light conditions and related diagnostic spectral features to surface layer soil moisture content. Diagnostic water absorption features in the spectra at 1.4 mu m and 1.9 mu m were present in all samples, including samples doped with high concentrations of chloride salts. The depth of the 1.4 mu m absorption is shown to increase linearly with increasing gravimetric water content. These results suggest that airborne hyperspectral imaging of the Dry Valleys could generate soil moisture maps of this environment over large spatial areas using non-invasive remote-sensing techniques.