Interesting stuff from Davos (Laret) (for once?!)

Category : Data, ground measurements

Davos is well known for some meetings taking place up there. But our Colleagues from WSL and Gamma Remote sensing are carrying out a very interesting experiment as detailed below by Mike and Reza!

Davos-Laret Remote Sensing Field Laboratory: Latest Results and Progress

Reza Naderpour and Mike Schwank

The Davos-Laret Remote Sensing Field Laboratory (Switzerland) was established in October 2016 as the only currently-operating Alpine test site dedicated to the development of novel retrieval approaches for the estimation of snow properties from passive/active microwave remote sensing data.


Caption: ELBARA in Davos-Laret: before winter (the wire mesh is visible on the ground) and when snow is present

The second winter campaign started on November 18, 2017 simultaneously with the publication of the first paper based on Winter 2016/17 campaign:

Naderpour, R.; Schwank, M.; Mätzler, C. Davos-Laret Remote Sensing Field Laboratory: 2016/2017 Winter Season L-Band Measurements Data-Processing and Analysis. Remote Sens. 20179, 1185.

Accessible here:

With two more upcoming papers, the research conducted in the Winter 2016/17 campaign has mainly investigated the retrieval of snow liquid water content from L-band radiometry as well as disturbing impacts of snow liquid water on the ground permittivity and snow density retrievals. Additionally, several data processing improvements, including a refined RFI mitigation approach, are suggested which can be of high interest to ELBARA users. See the PDF file for more information on the 2017/18 campaign and close-up details of the campaign practicalities!


Soon 8 candles for SMOS!! (4/8)

Category : CATDS, Cal/Val, Data, L2, Non classé, ground measurements

Today let’s have a look back on what was done over land… but remember: it is only a quick summary of part of the findings!!


Of course all the emphasis at the beginning was on the soil moisture retrievals over what as called « nominal surfaces », which meant land surface with moderate vegetation cover (fallow, crop land, savannah etc..) with all the cal val efforts related to it. For this in particular, several sites were dedicated to Cal Val (VAS in Spain, UDB in Germany, AACES/COSMOS/NAFE in Australia, and later HOBE in Denmark, with also sites in France, Poland, Finland, Tibet, etc…). We also relied heavily on the USDA so called « Watershed sites » and various sparse networks. Actually it is for SMOS that ESA and NASA decided to start the International Soil moisture Network.

lewis-faugaAACES 6MELBEX-II EMIRAD Installation 004LEWIS_3IMG_9674ELBARA-Sodankyla

Various pictures SMOSREX, AACES, VAS, Crolles, Mysore, Sodankylä …

Surprisingly enough we obtained good results almost immediately. But this was only the beginning as, in parallel, both level 1 and level 2 made significant progresses, leading to always improved retrievals. Actually with such fast progresses, it has always been a bit of a frustration to see people use not up to date products, as publications looking at SMOS data tended – for obvious reasons – to be a couple of version old (but generally failed to stipulate which version they were looking at!).

The most striking features of these always improved retrievals was, to me, the fact that the range of validity tended to regularly increase. Low to medium topography did not seem to a be a limitation, we managed to make sense in case of flooded areas (see for instance Mississipi floods) and we could get information in case of dense vegetation. The Tor Vergata University for instance related very quickly the vegetation depth to tree height and performed soil moisture retrievals under rainforest. No so accurate of course, but the tendencies are well depicted.


SMOS opacity vs tree height from ICESat for two season (Rahmoune et al)

The only trouble we had was that the vegetation optical depth was not as satisfactory as we would have expected. It remained noisy in spite of significant overall progresses. To address this problem and also to keep on improving our retrievals (parametrisations) INRA and CESBIO worked on a different approach, the so called SMOS-IC and, lo and behold, first results are rather amazing! We believe we have again struck gold. More about this in the near future!

To finish with the surface soil moisture and vegetation opacity retrievals, we were faced with the fact that the retrieval algorithm is not so fast and thus tests or re-processings are a lengthy and tedious. This was another motivation for SMOS-IC but we also wanted to go a step further and, as soon as enough data was acquired, we developed a global neural network retrieval scheme. It has since been implemented in ECMWF and delivers Soil moisture fields less than 3 hours of sensing, paving the way to many applications…. to be summarised soon: stay tuned!

Further reading

Fernandez-Moran, R.; Al-Yaari, A.; Mialon, A.; Mahmoodi, A.; Al Bitar, A.; De Lannoy, G.; Rodriguez-Fernandez, N.; Lopez-Baeza, E.; Kerr, Y.; Wigneron, J.-P. SMOS-IC: An Alternative SMOS Soil Moisture and Vegetation Optical Depth Product. Remote Sens. 2017, 9, 457.

Kerr, Y. H., et al. (2012), The SMOS Soil Moisture Retrieval Algorithm, IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 50(5), 1384-1403, doi:10.1109/tgrs.2012.2184548.

Rahmoune, R., Ferrazzoli, P., Singh, Y., Kerr, Y., Richaume, P., Al Bitar,  A. SMOS Retrieval Results Over Forests: Comparisons With Independent Measurements. J-STARS ,2014

Rodriguez-Fernandez, N.J., Aires, F., Richaume, P., Kerr, Y.H., Prigent, C., Kolassa, J., Cabot, F., Jimenez, C., Mahmoodi, A., & Drusch, M. (2015). Soil Moisture Retrieval Using Neural Networks: Application to SMOS. Ieee Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 53, 5991-6007

Vittucci, C., Ferrazzoli, P., Kerr, Y., Richaume, P., Guerriero, L., Rahmoune, R., & Laurin, G.V. (2016). SMOS retrieval over forests: Exploitation of optical depth and tests of soil moisture estimates. Remote Sensing of Environment, 180, 115-127

Reminder! MicroRad is around the corner

Category : Data, Satellite, ground measurements

We kindly remind you that the abstract deadline of MicroRad 2016 is October 15, 2015.

The 14th Specialist Meeting on Microwave Radiometry and Remote Sensing of the Environment (MicroRad 2016) will take place on Aalto University Campus in Espoo, Finland, on April 11-14, 2016. Previously the meeting has been organized alternately in Italy and the United States.

MicroRad 2016 is sponsored by the Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), International Union of Radio Science (URSI), the Center for Microwave Remote Sensing (CeTeM) and Aalto University.

Proceedings from the MicroRad conference will be archived by IEEE in IEEE Xplore, with an IEEE special issue/section planned for the Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing (JSTARS).

We are currently accepting abstract submissions through the conference website which can be accessed with the following link:

Please follow the abstract submission guidelines which can be found here:

General information about MicroRad 2016 can be found at the conference website:

We look forward to seeing you in Espoo in April.


Martti Hallikainen, General Chair
Aalto University, Espoo

Jaan Praks, Technical Chair
Aalto University, Espoo

Next Living Planet Symposium!

Category : Cal/Val, Data, Model, Satellite, ground measurements

…. from the LPS16 Organising Committee team

Dear colleague,

We would like to kindly remind you that the deadline for submitting abstracts to ESA’s Living Planet Symposium 2016 is 16 October 2015.

On the Symposium website (, you will find more information about the event that will be held in Prague (Czech Republic) 9-13 May 2016 including the link to submit your abstracts

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