Special Issue « New Outstanding Results over Land from the SMOS Mission »

Category : Data

from Amen Al-Yaari and Arnaud Mialon

Call for publications

Dear Colleagues,

Surface soil moisture (the water content in the first centimeters of soil) is an essential climate variable that plays an important role in land–atmosphere interactions. Soil moisture is widely used in improving climate model predictions/projections, weather forecasting, drought monitoring, rainfall estimations, etc.

Monitoring surface soil moisture at a global scale has recently become possible thanks to microwave remote sensing. SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) was the first dedicated soil moisture mission that has been in orbit for eight years. The SMOS satellite was launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2009, carrying on board a radiometer in the L-band frequency with a native spatial resolution of ~43 km. Since then, soil moisture and vegetation optical depth (VOD) have been retrieved from multi-angular brightness temperature observations relying mainly on a radiative transfer model.

This is a dedicated Special Issue on SMOS. We welcome studies on all subjects that are related to the SMOS satellite and its products.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • the improvements in the soil moisture/VOD retrieval algorithms;
  • the evaluation/validation of the SMOS soil moisture and VOD products;
  • SMOS synergy with other remote sensing observations or models simulations;
  • SMOS soil moisture/VOD applications for agriculture, hydrology, etc.

Dr. Amen Al-Yaari
Dr. Arnaud Mialon
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Remote Sensing is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI’s English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


SMOS: A new tool to monitor the carbon budget of vegetation: first application to the African continent

Category : L3

How do the vegetation carbon stocks change at the continental scale? What are the drivers of these changes? These are central questions for the sciences of Climate and for the application of international agreements on climate. A study coordinated by the University of Copenhagen1 has developed a new approach to investigate this issue. In collaboration with scientific teams2 from CEA, CNES and CNRS, INRA has coordinated the development of the new data set derived from SMOS microwave observations which is used to quantify vegetation carbon stocks. The study demonstrates that over the African continent and during the 2010-2016 period, the net carbon balance is negative (corresponding to a decrease of the quantity of carbon stored in the vegetation biomass) and that most of the carbon losses occurred in dryland savannahs. These results were published on 9th April 2018 in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Satellite passive microwaves reveal recent climate-induced carbon losses in African drylands, Martin Brandt, et al., Nature Ecology & Evolution, Apr 9, 2018, doi:10.1038/s41559-018-0530-6

Changes in aboveground vegetation carbon stocks in sub-Saharan Africa over 2010–2016. Regions with significant negative (carbon source) or positive (carbon sink) carbon changes are shown, respectively, in red or green.

© M. Brandt – Université de Copenhague

Scientists from INRA and their colleagues have produced a new data set of the vegetation index referred to as L-VOD (L-band vegetation optical depth), retrieved from space-borne observations of the SMOS satellite over 2010-2016. The data have been used to quantify annual aboveground biomass-carbon changes in sub-Saharan Africa stocks over the time period. The L-VOD index computed from SMOS observations allows sensing the whole canopy layer, while remote sensing observations made so far (including VOD indexes from high frequency microwave observations) were limited to sensing the top of the canopy, especially over relatively dense forests. In this study, the L-VOD index brings a temporal dimension to global, but static, maps of the above ground biomass.

An new tool to carry out an innovative monitoring of the dynamics of aboveground vegetation carbon stocks

This new method allows to monitor the seasonal dynamics of vegetation carbon losses and gains and also to link them with the impact of climate. The results demonstrate the key interest of SMOS L-VOD as a complementary data source for the quantification and monitoring of carbon stocks for national reports and large scale efforts in the framework of international initiatives such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The SMOS L-VOD index is particularly relevant to study relatively dense vegetation ecosystems where the signal measured from other remotely-sensed system saturates. It is also very relevant for semi-arid regions with little inventory data.

First applications of the new L-VOD tool to monitor carbon changes in sub-Saharan Africa

The study demonstrates there is an overall negative net carbon budget for sub-Saharan Africa (−0.10 PgC yr−1) over 2010-2016 and that the majority of the net losses occurred in drylands. In the latter regions, the gross loss per year represents approximately

5% of the dryland total carbon stocks in Africa. Overall, most of the detected decreases in carbon stocks in drylands were related to abnormally low soil moisture and rainfall conditions. The analyses showed there is a high inter-annual variability in the vegetation carbon stocks with gains during very wet years in (2011) and losses during in 2015 and early 2016, following a severe El Niño episode.

This study questions the general understandin

g that drylands may serve as carbon sinks on the long term. Indeed, the authors have found that dry years have partly reversed this trend and that drylands (especially in southern Africa) turned from being a carbon sink into a source over 2010-2016, demonstrating that climate controls short-term variations in carbon stocks at large scales.

So, in the long term we need to reassess whether woody vegetation in African savannahs will continue to be a carbon sink.

1 Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

2 List of French teams involved:

Unité « Interaction Sol Plante Atmosphère » (Inra, Bordeaux Sciences Agro), centre Inra Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique (CNRS – IRD – UT3 Paul Sabatier – ENFA)

Laboratoire des sciences du climat et de l’environnement (CEA-CNRS-UVSQ)

Centre d’études spatiales de la biosphère (Cnes-CNRS-IRD-UT3 Paul Sabatier)


Category : CATDS, L2, L3

I am very pleased to announce that the new SMOS-IC soil moisture product is now available as a science product on the CATDS:

The SMOS INRA-CESBIO (SMOS-IC) algorithm was designed by INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique) and CESBIO (Centre d’Etudes Spatiales de la BIOsphère) to perform global retrievals of SM and L-VOD using some simplifications with respect to the Level 2 ESA algorithm. The SMOS-IC algorithm and dataset is described in Fernandez-Moran et al. (2017). SMOS -IC was designed on the same basis as the level 2 SM algorithm, i.e., L-MEB (Wigneron et al, 2007). However, one of the main goals of the SMOS-IC product is to be as independent as possible from auxiliary data so as to be more robust and less impacted by potential uncertainties in the afore mentioned auxiliary data sets. It also differs from the SMOS Level 2 product in the treatment of retrievals over regions with a heterogeneous land cover (partially forested areas). Specifically, SMOS-IC does not account for corrections associated with the antenna pattern and the complex SMOS viewing angle geometry. It considers pixels as homogeneous.

The current version is 105 and it is provided in the 25km EASEv2 grid, as netcdf format. SMOS IC is a scientific product delivered by the CATDS, i.e. meaning it is not updated on a daily basis as an operational product for the time being.

We re looking forward to receiving your feed back as we intend to make it an operational product soon.

We will soon deploy the companion  SMOS-IC VOD (vegetation Optical Depth) product as well as a corresponding Level 3 for both SM and VOD obtained with SMOS-IC

Also Note that very soon we will deploy another new product (yes), i.e., SMOS brightness temperature in polar projection

L Band Continuation workshop is on at CESBIO

Category : Non classé

Hello all

The L band continuation workshop is currently underway at CESBIO the agenda is

Yesterday, the presentations and exchanges were put on line by Ahmad and can be seen here.

We will continue today…

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