Postdoc position open on Remote sensing of Sea Surface Salinity

Category : position opening

A post doc position is opening at LOCEAN:

Remote sensing of sea surface salinity: what can we learn from 10 years of satellite measurements?

Missions :

-Advance the understanding of the phenomena influencing L-band radiometric satellite measurements, in particular SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) measurements; propose improvements to model brightness temperatures and retrieve salinity over the ocean

-Collaborate with various research teams in order to acquire a synthetic vision of the strengths and weaknesses of the satellite salinities acquired since 2010

Activities :

Nearly 10 years of satellite salinity are now available thanks to the SMOS (2010-), SMAP (2015-) and Aquarius (2011-2015) missions. Based on the spatial and temporal variability of the differences between salinities retrieved from each of the three missions and in relation to in situ measurements, the candidate will seek to identify, in collaboration with other team members, the potential causes of the differences: natural variability of salinity at scales not sampled by the different types of measurements, imprecision of auxiliary measurements (e.g. surface temperature, wind speed), direct models (e.g. sea surface roughness model), calibration procedures. He will seek to explain and/or correct the main identified differences, based on physical considerations. Through his knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the data, he will help to highlight the contribution of the (2010-2019) time series, to detecting variability at the ocean surface in relation to ocean circulation and air-sea exchanges. He will assist in the scientific coordination of the CCI (Climate Change Initiative) Sea Surface Salinity project.


- Satellite remote sensing

- Environmental sciences

- Data analysis and critical interpretation of results

- English fluent

- Autonomy and teamwork skills

- Python / Matlab; LINUX

Working context

The Laboratoire d’Oceanographie et du Climat – Expérimentation et Approches numériques (LOCEAN), part of Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (IPSL), is a joint research laboratory between French CNRS, IRD, Sorbonne Université and Museum national d’histoire naturelle, dedicated mostly to physical and biogeochemical oceanographic research and the role of the ocean in climate variability. These studies are tackled both by observational and experimental means (oceanographic campaigns, merchant ships, buoys, instrument development, satellite measurements) and by modelling, theoretical and numerical (3-dimension ocean general circulation model). It includes almost two hundred scientists, engineers and technicians, mostly in the Paris area. It carries numerous cruises for scientific research or monitoring purposes, and has also experience in different ocean observing systems, in particular drifters, which it has contributed to develop, as well as gliders and other observing platforms. LOCEAN is actively participating in University teaching and supervision of PhD students. The candidate will join the PROTEO team.

SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) is the first Earth observation satellite mission to carry an L-band interferometric radiometer. Launched at the end of 2009, it has now acquired nearly 10 years of data, demonstrating the feasibility of satellite surface salinity measurement and the contribution of interferometric technology. LOCEAN teams have been working on measurement optimization since 1999 and use satellite salinities for scientific purposes. This new type of measurement appeared particularly innovative to characterize tropical instability waves, river plumes, rain signatures, tropical mesoscale ocean structures, signatures related to El Niño events. This post-doctoral fellowship is part of the projects of the CNES and the European Space Agency aimed at consolidating and enhancing the measures acquired. J. Boutin coordinates the SMOS-Ocean CNES/TOSCA project and is the Scientific Co-Lead of the ESA CCI+Sea Surface Salinity project.

Additional information:

Contract duration: 12 months renewable–> This postdoctoral fellowship, with an initial duration of one year, may be renewed for one or two years.

Expected hiring date: mid January, 2020 or later

Work share: Full time

Remuneration: about 2700 € gross monthly (commensurable with experience)

Desired level of study: PhD

Desired experience: 1 to 4 years

How to apply:

Please answer with a CV, letter of motivation and the name of two references to Jacqueline Boutin (

SMOS is 10 years old! Happy Birthday and many happy returns

Category : Satellite

Yes indeed!

10 years ago, early in the day with a completely overcast sky, SMOS soared into the skies.

And after that, dutifully and without almost no interruption, the mission has delivered an outstanding data stream … So congratulations to the project team who did this wonderful mission, and thanks to the operation teams who do the utmost to deliver the data in a timely and quality driven fashion…

So where are we after ten years? …

On top of all that was planned in terms of soil moisture and Sea surface salinity…


Figure 1 from Dimitry Khvorostyanov (LOCEAN)

SMOS is used operationally at ECMWF in the IFS since June 2019

SMOS is used operationally to infer sea ice thickness, freeze thaw and also measures the internal temperature of the Antarctica Ice sheet…


Figure 2 Sea Ice extent dévolution since SMOS Launch (Lars Kaleschke AWI)

SMOS is able to quantify high levels of biomass (300 t/ha) using the L-VOD this is also un precedented. It proved it ability to detect droughts in advance and help forecasting floods.


Figure 3 SMOS VOD (Arnaud Mialon)

SMOS is used to improve rainfall estimates from satellite over both land and oceans, is unique for monitoring High winds (hurricanes and tornadoes)

Etc etc … I stop here as the list is too long and will get soon boring.  All I may add is that very novel uses are still coming out or on the verge of popping out (liquid water in snow and ice, green house gas emissions, …) so stay tuned.

Last but not least, we now have 10 years of continuous data at reach. We can start to study tele-connections, climate trends  indicators  or hints of them etc. The treasure box is far from being exhausted, believe me.

I may be biased but I do not think any mission can claim more results in so little time than SMOS -especially for an explorer missions. Did you realise we have already over 1400 publications  (h index of 68) in WoS? including 3 (and several more coming) in Nature journals and 20 highly cited papers?

So to make a long story short,

long life to SMOS !

Many thanks to all those who work every day with much dedication to provide us with the good data.

If as a user you have new results let us know! We like to keep abreast of all what is going on! This blog could be your sounding board

And let’s hope our decision makers will soon come to their sense and enable a SMOS/L- band radiometer follow mission to emerge – if only to satisfy the operational users!

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!


8+ years of soil moisture and ocean salinity data over the globe from SMOS

Category : CATDS, L2, L3, Ocean

This animation was prepared by Dimitry Khvorostyanov from LOCEAN with SMOS data from CATDS (Soil moisture level 3 and Ocean salinity debiased V3)


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