Forward simulation of root’s ground penetrating radar signal: simulator development and validation

Forward simulation of root’s ground penetrating radar signal: simulator development and validation

Li Guo1, Henry Lin2, Bihang Fan1, Xihong Cui1, Jin Chen1

1 State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China;

2 Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.



Background and aims It remains unclear how the limiting factors (e.g., root size, root water content, spacing between roots, and soil water content) affect root investigation using ground penetrating radar (GPR). The objective of this study is to develop a theoretical forward simulation protocol of synthesizing root’s GPR signal and test the feasibility of our proposed simulation protocol in evaluating the impacts of limiting factors on GPR-based root detection and quantification.

Methods The proposed forward simulation protocol was developed by integrating several existing numerical models, such as the Root Composition Model, the Root Dielectric Constant Model, the Root Electrical Conductivity Model, the Soil Dielectric Constant Model, the Soil Electrical Conductivity Model, and a newly-established model (Root Length-Biomass Model). Resolution and GPR index obtained from both field collected radargrams and corresponding simulations were compared to validate the accuracy of simulation.

Results Simulated radargrams exhibit similar resolution with that of the in situ collected. The same trends of root radar signals against different levels of root size, root water content, interval between roots, root depth, and antenna frequency were observed on both in situ radargrams and simulated radargrams. Strong correlations (correlation coefficients ranging from 0.87 to 0.96) were found between GPR indices extracted from the simulated data and those from the field collected data.

Conclusions Our proposed forward simulation is effective for assessing the impacts of limiting factors on root detection and quantification using GPR. This forward simulation protocol can be used to provide guidance for in situ GPR root investigation and can predict the accuracy of GPR-based root quantification under site-specific conditions.


Keywords: Ground penetrating radar; Noninvasive; Root detection; Root quantification; Limiting factors; Forward simulation.


Published in Plant and Soil. 2013, 372: 487-505.