SMOS-L4 precipitation product available on CATDS database (PrISM)

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From Thierry Pellarin IGE

Surface soil moisture intrinsically contains information on previous rain event. Different research teams (W. Crow (USDA, US), L. Brocca (IRPI, Italy), T. Pellarin (IGE, France), N. Wanders (Utrecht, NL)) investigated the way to use satellite soil moisture measurements to derive a precipitation product. At IGE (Grenoble Alpes University), a methodology based on the assimilation of SMOS measurement in a simple soil moisture – precipitation model was developed: the PrISM methodology (Precipitation Inferred from Soil Moisture).


Figure: Evaluation of PrISM precipitation products over 20 raingauge stations in Burkina Faso. PrISM is applied to correct for CMORPH, PERSIANN and TRMM-RT products using SMOS-L3SM.

The illustration gives an overview of the performance of three real-time satellite precipitation products (CMORPH, PERSIANN and TRMM-RT) versus SMOS-PrISM products over 20 raingauge stations in Burkina Faso (2012) in term of correlation, RMSE and bias (red boxes). The blue boxes (PrIMS products) indicate the improvement of the performances of the three real-time satellite precipitation products due to SMOS soil moisture information.

PrISM precipitation products (0.25°, 3 hours) are available on CATDS from 2010 to 2017, for Africa and Australia. PrISM was funded by CNES (TOSCA) and ESA (SMOS+RAINFALL ESA/AO/1-7875/14/I-NC).

Data is available on CATDS and more specifically here and more details on the product are given here

SMOS data is now integrated into ECMWF’s forecasting system!

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Great news!

As of last Monday (June 11, 2019) the European Centre for Medium range Weather Forecast (ECMWF) is using SMOS in its forecasting system (46R1)!

Since its launch in 2009, the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission  made by ESA CNES and CDTI has been providing global observations of L band emissions from Earth’s surface, providing information on, but not limited to, soil moisture, vegetation optical thickness, thin sea ice, freeze thaw, and ocean salinity – all very major components of the water cycle.

Accurate weather forecasts are paramount for both commercial and leisure activities. ECMWF is the leading agency to provide global accurate weather forecasts. Its Integrated Forecasting System (IFS), a gigantic numerical weather prediction model, provides weather predictions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To do so the system ingests lots of data but the key is to get data into the IFS in the so called near real time (NRT ) .i.e., less than 3 hours after sensing. which is not necessarily easy with satellite data requiring lost of processing.


Fig1: Impact of assimilation SMOS SM NN and screen variables on weather forecasts at ECMWF on air temperature at 850 hPa for different forecast periods (July September period).eImprovements are in blue.

To overcome this difficulty, LERMA and CESBIO jointly worked on a faster retrieval approach relying on machine learning through the use of Neural Networks. It was adapted to ECMWF requirements  by N Rodriguez Fernandez et al., to generate the information needed for operational forecasts, and after 15 years or so of efforts, the SMOS data is used in 24/7 operations which is a major achievement.


Fig 2 SMOS derived soil moisture using neural networks

So far, only SMOS measurements over land are being used to support general weather forecasts. Considering SMOS provides information in all weather conditions, SMOS also delivers new information for tracking hurricanes or improving rainfall estimates from satellite, for monitoring thin sea ice or freeze thaw, for monitoring root zone soil moisture and delivering drought indices etc (see previous posts on this blog!).

So far, SMOS is the only Earth explorer satellite providing measurements operationally for global medium-range weather forecasts. But is was not even considered for Copernicus expansion mission…Nevertheless we are keeping busy and a phase A for the SMOS improved follow on: SMOS High Resolution or SMOS HR is starting at CNES in an international collaboration scheme. The Goal is to have by 2026 a 10 km resolution L band radiometer… Stay tuned!

Announcing the RFI 2019 workshop in Toulouse

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We have the pleasure to announce that the Radio Astronomy and Remote Sensing communities are again working together in organizing an RFI 2019 Workshop to provide an opportunity for the scientific community affected by Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) to meet, report and discuss recent achievements and developments in instrumentation, methodology, and applications in tackling this problem.
The Call for Papers is attached here. RFI 2019 will take place on September 23-26 2019, in Toulouse, France. The abstract submission deadline is on May 31, 2019. Further derails are available on the workshop website at <>.

SMOS Mission Extended to 2021!

Category : CATDS, Data, L1, L2, L3, L4, Non classé, Satellite

I am glad to inform you that yesterday the Program Board for Earth Observation (PB-EO) of ESA voted the SMOS mission extension following the ACEO (Advisory Committee for Earth Observation) review report:

« Member states’ delegations were very positive about both the achievements so far as well as the detailed plan being put forward for the extension. « 

CNES (the French Space Agency also funding the mission exploitation), has already granted funding until 2021 (actually 2019 with extension to 2021 pending PB-EO vote which we now have).

So, should everything go nicely with the satellite and platform, we have data guaranteed until  2021!

Congratulations and many thanks to all the actors of this success.

SMOS is now over 9 year old and still going strong by the way!


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