SMOS research products for the Cryosphere in Antarctica

Category : L3, L4

The aim of the CryoSMOS project, funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and led by IFAC (Florence, Italy), is to evaluate the ability of SMOS observations to retrieve glaciological parameters or to monitor climatic processes in Antarctica. The study focused on some broad areas of the continent having specific physical characteristics: the Antarctic Plateau, the ice-shelves and the coastal region. Four SMOS derived research products have been developed:

1) Estimation of the internal ice-sheet temperature

Contact : Giovanni Macelloni, – IFAC, Florence, Italy

2) Estimation of ice thickness

Contact : Niels Skou,,DTU, – Technical University of Denmark – Denmark

3) Indicator of the origin of ice-shelves variability;

Contact : Lars Kaleschke,, UHAM – University of Hamburg, Germany

4) Surface melting occurrence

Contact : Ghislain Picard,,IGE – Institut des Geosciences de l’Environnement – Grenoble, France

The data are available from the CATDS and can be found here (free)

Information regarding these products can be found here

More information is available there

Two examples are shown in the figures below. The top most represents the temperature of the ice packs at a depth of 500m. The lower one gives the number of days of melt in 2010/2011.

Tice@-500m in SM_TEST_MIR_ITUDP4_20100101T0000


SMOS confirms that Winter is NOT coming

Category : Non classé

SMOS Monitors a gigantic early melt in Greenland in quasi real time

As reported here (credit Ruth Mottram, DMI) and here, just a few days ago on April 11 and 12 more than 10% of Greenland surface melted. This is very significant at this time of year (see cutting below from here).

greenland melt

From the late seventies with SMMR, passive microwave sensors have already shown their ability to monitor ice caps.

SMOS, thanks to its L-band capacity is sensitive to layering in the snow/ice pack but liquid water on the surface will also change drastically brightness temperatures  and this is exactly what happened.

SMOS sees thus the brightness temperatures over Western Greenland decrease due to heavy surface melting.

The videos below show an animation of SMOS measurements over Greenland.

The the South Eastern part of Greenland, along the coast line, the brightness temperatures suddenly drop from relatively high values (> 240 K. orange colour) to values lower than 220 K. (light blue, green yellow).

HFigure : Animation showing SMOS brightness temperatures (L3 TB from CATDS) in H polarization, for an incidence angles ranging between 40 to 45°.

By Arnaud Mialon

From Antarctica with Love

Category : Cal/Val, Data

Antarctica is a swell place to perform calibration, especially at low microwave frequencies. For SMOS (and Aquarius), at L band (21 cm 1.4 GHz) the system probes a very large depth of very dry ice so the physical temperature is very stable.

The area around Dome Concordia has been used since launch to monitor SMOS calibration (as well as Aquarius later on) with the added advantage of having periodically a ground based radiometer (DOMEX run by IROE). An airborne campaign will soon be run to assess spatial variability.

But the main science aspects related to this ice cap is to understand and model properly both the layered structure and the corresponding emission. Another issue is to understand the variations in signal at L band in horizontal polarization.

The LGGE laboratory in Grenoble has been very active in the domain for many years and the SMOS project relied heavily on the Glacio group to progress on this front.

Currently a team is spending a good part of summer at Dome C and they have managed to extract very significant ice cores (see Arnaud Mialon carrying one such:.

Anaud with an ice Core

Anaud with an ice Core

In parallel at CESBIO we are constantly monitoring SMOS (and Aquarius) data, as seen on this plot from F. Cabot

Comparison Aquarius SMOS over domeC

Comparison Aquarius SMOS over domeC

Note the sudden variations seen by both sensors at H pol…

Stay tuned… more to follow

Post-doctoral Position on “SMOS in Antarctica”, Laboratoire de Glaciologie (LGGE), Grenoble, France

Category : CATDS, Data, L2, L3

Using a combination of field measurements and radiative transfer modelling, our group investigates the potential of brightness temperatures measured by passive microwave to infer information on the Antarctic climate. The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission provides for the first time observations in the low frequency range of microwaves (L-band, 1.4 GHz). Exploring the potential of this new data set is the goal of this project funded by the French space agency (CNES) and done in collaboration with CESBIO, Toulouse, France.

We are seeking to appoint a post-doctoral research scientist for 1 year to investigate these original data in Antarctica using modelling and experimental data (Dome C mainly) and satellite data.

The position will start on 1st November 2012 or not later than end of 2012.

Contact for enquiries and application:

Dr Ghislain Picard –

(Phone: +33 4 76 82 42 45)


Other information:

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