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.

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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

SMOS helps discriminating water sources in cold seas

Category : L2, Ocean

Discriminating water sources from space in the Arctic Ocean: A case study for the southern Beaufort Sea using MODIS ocean color and SMOS salinity data

A recent paper by Matsuoka et al. (2016), using SMOS ESA L2 SSS, found nice correlations between the interannual variability of SMOS SSS and ocean color CDOM (see fig 1 and 2 below) in the Mackenzie river mouth. Using this region as a case study, they derive an algorithm using this two sets of data for getting reasonable fractions of river water. As stated by the authors ‘Application of this algorithm may lead to the discrimination of water sources in the surface layer of the Arctic Ocean in various environments where seawater, ice melt water, and river water are intermingled,which might be useful to improve our understanding of physical and biogeochemical processes related to each water source’.


Fig.1 : Satellite images of CDOM absorption coefficient at 443 nm [aCDOM(443),m−1] using MODIS ocean color data in July to August 2010 to 2012 (from Matsuoka et al. (2016))


Fig. 2 : Same as Fig. 1 for SMOS SSS (from Matsuoka et al. (2016)).

Atsushi Matsuoka, Marcel Babin, Emmanuel C. Devred, A new algorithm for discriminating water sources from space: A case study for the southern Beaufort Sea using MODIS ocean color and SMOS salinity data, Remote Sensing of Environment, Volume 184, October 2016, Pages 124-138, ISSN 0034-4257, (//

SMOS Soil Moisture data available in Near real Time !!

Category : L2

We would like to inform you that we have now released the SMOS soil moisture product available in near-real time (NRT) based on a neural network approach.

The netcdf product is disseminated within four hours from sensing. For the moment it is available from ESA’s SMOS data portal ( From mid-April this product will also be available through EUMETCAST and GTS.

For further information on the product and access to data please see

Kind regards,
Susanne Mecklenburg

SMOS REPROCESSED Level 2 DATA (V6) now available

Category : Data, L1, L2, Ocean

Dear SMOS data user -

We would like to inform you that the reprocessed level 2 soil moisture and sea surface salinity data are now available on the new ESA SMOS Online Dissemination service:

This release aligns the Level 2 soil moisture and sea surface salinity data available operationally already since May 2015 with the reprocessed data archive: SMOS data users now have a complete v6 data set available.

The algorithm evolutions implemented in the v6 data set are described in the respective Algorithm Theoretical Baseline Documents (ATBDs) and in the read-me-first notes: We would like to encourage all users to familiarise themselves with the read-me-first notes before using the data.

The level 2 reprocessed data products are available on the new ESA SMOS Online Dissemination service accessible here ( The new service allows to access data by https and ftp/ftps transfer protocols for all registered ESA EO Single Sign-On (EO-SSO) users. The online service facilitates the data access with enhanced functionality for data navigation and selection by data type, acquisition time, geographical area and data format (i.e. ESA Earth Explorer (EEF) or NetCDF format).

SMOS level 1 brightness temperature data and  ECMWF auxiliary products are also available from the new ESA SMOS Online Dissemination service.

For further details on how to access the SMOS data  and how to register as ESA EO_SSO please

Kind regards

Susanne Mecklenburg

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