Radio Science

Measuring and modeling the backscattering cross section of a leaf


  • T. B. A. Senior,

  • K. Sarabandi,

  • F. T. Ulaby


Leaves are a significant feature of any vegetation canopy, and for remote sensing purposes it is important to develop an effective model for predicting the scattering from a leaf. From measurements of the X band backscattering cross section of a coleus leaf in varying stages of dryness, it is shown that a uniform resistive sheet constitutes such a model for a planar leaf. The scattering is determined by the (complex) resistivity which is, in turn, entirely specified by the gravimetric moisture content of the leaf. Using an available asymptotic expression for the scattering from a rectangular resistive plate which includes, as a special case, a metallic plate whose resistivity is zero, the computed backscattering cross sections for both principal polarizations are found to be in excellent agreement with data measured for rectangular sections of leaves with different moisture contents. If the resistivity is sufficiently large, the asymptotic expressions do not differ significantly from the physical optics ones, and for naturally shaped leaves as well as rectangular sections, the physical optics approximation in conjunction with the resistive sheet model faithfully reproduces the dominant features of the scattering patterns under all moisture conditions.