Drought over Western Europe

Category : L2

Western Europe is experiencing a noticeable deficit of water. England has already considered the situation as serious (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-17102615), see the following map of drought risk.


SMOS allows us to get the soil moisture content of the top layer of the surface, but this drought is well observed. It concerns not only the UK but also Spain as can be seen in the following figure. It presents the soil moisture as derived from SMOS in February 2010, 2011 and 2012 (average values), for ascending overpasses (corresponding to measurements in the morning at ~ 6am, solar local time). Note that February 2010 was still the beginning of the mission and  the commissioning phase, which explains some lack in the retrievals.


Low soil moisture levels are seen in yellow (less than 0.10 m3 of water / m3 of soil, i.e. less than 10%  in average in February), and it is more obvious when compared to the soil moisture at the same period last year. The next figure shows the differences between the months of February 2012 and February 2011 over Europe (as 2012 – 2011), for the ascending overpasses . The red color (i.e. negative values) stands for 2012 being drier than February 2011, whereas the blue is the opposite, i.e. February 2011 being drier than 2012. The Following animation presents also a zoom over Spain, which presents a significant decrease of water content.



SMOS dielectric constant product and its uses during the last cold spell in Europe

Category : CATDS, L2, L4

SMOS delivers one « strange » or rather unusual product which is an estimate of the surface dielectric constant (see ATBD!). A example of it’s potential use is shown below with the fields of dielectric constant estimated over Europe for two periods corresponding to the arrival of a cold front over Western Europe. The first picture corresponds to the period going from January 28 to 31 2012. The cold spell is arriving but not quite there yet. The second picture shows the dielectric constant for the period going from February 2nd to 5th, 2012. As one might remember, it was quiet cold and soil was often frozen while snow was widely spread over Europe (and quite dry as it was cold). The dielectric constant consequently dropped significantly. This can been seen on the pictures with the dielectric constant dropping from values equivalent to wet soils (typically 15) to values for very dry or frozen soils (1 to 3) which gives this more blueish shade.


January 28 to 31:  western Europe is grayish white hence high dielectric constant values …


February 2-5, 2012. Western Europe is under snow or frozen, … much lower values of the dielectric constant.

Al Bitar and al, CESBIO

Drought in Europe

Category : CATDS, L2, L3

Using SMOS soil moisture monthly data François Cabot produced the following animation.

It is made by simply comparing monthly soil moisture in 2010 and 2011…

We can clearly see the drought starting in Western Europe (UK, France,…) in March-April to slowly but surely move twowards teh East (Germany, Poland, …) as we get to November while Spain and Southern France get some rain…

Just click on the image to see the animation


2011 US Droughts

Category : CATDS, L3

Using the CATDS level 3 products Arnaud Quesney produced this (very coarse) drought index by simply differentiating the level 3  monthly soil moisture products (January to July) between 2011 and 2010.


The red indicating dryer conditions in 2011 than 2010. This compares very favourably with the USDA drought monitor


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