Because of lower than normal precipitation last winter and early spring, soil water in France is actually going low. This is fully documented by Meteo France and is also witnessed by SMOS.
A simple comparison of soil moisture monthly averages for March and April is shown on the following figures
Obviously soil moistures for both months is lower in 2011 than what it was in 2010. This situation is even more visible in april, in most regions except Normandy and central Britany.
To make things clearer, on the following maps, you can see the difference between 2011 and 2010 of monthly average soil moisture for months of march and april. Top charts show the maps of the difference, while bottom charts show the histogram of these differences. Deficit as high as 0.1 m3/m3 can be seen in northern and north-western parts of France, as well as in south-west lowlands.
In summary, these 2 maps show much drier conditions in 2011 than we had in 2010. Moreover, it must be pointed out that 2010 cannot be considered as a reference « average » year, already showing precipitation deficit around 30% for march and april.
SMOS will continue monitoring this situation.