Simone Bircher

Phone: +33 (0) 5 61 55 85 44

I have been working on several projects involving cryosphere research and since my Ph.D I am focusing on low frequency passive microwave remote sensing in the context of the European Space Agency's Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission. In particular, my expertise includes field measurements (short-term campaigns and long-term monitoring) for the validation of large scale remotely sensed datasets by consideration of spatial scaling issues, laboratory measurements of relative permittivity using resonant cavity and waveguide techniques, radiative transfer modeling as well as manipulations of the SMOS Level 2 Soil Moisture Prototype Processor.


Master Science degree and Ph.D

I received the M.Sc. degree in geography from the University of Zurich (UZH), Switzerland, in 2007 with special focus on glaciology, soil science, GIS, and remote sensing.
My diploma thesis covered the subject of active-layer heat-transfer within coarse blocky layers in Alpine permafrost.

I received the Ph.D. degree from the Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby, Denmark, in 2012.
My thesis was dealing with the subject of SMOS data validation in the Skjern River Catchment in Denmark. It was carried out at the DTU Space Department, Microwaves and Remote Sensing Division, with some short-term stays at the Centre d'Etudes Spatiales de la Biosphère.
Research activities

High latitude research using microwave remote sensing

During my studies I conducted a three month internship in the field of natural hazard detection based on GIS applications at the Department of Geology at the University of Tromsø, Norway. After my graduation I worked as a research assistant at the GIScience Center of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, where I was testing CORINE2000 land cover data for automatic image captioning in the framework of the EU-funded project Tripod.

Before starting my Ph.D I was a research assistant at the DTU Space Department, Division of Geodynamics, Technical University of Denmark where I conducted research in laser scanning of the Greenland ice sheet and Arctic Ocean sea-ice. During all these years I joined different campaigns in the Arctic with the Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany (Siberia) as well as with the DTU Space Department (Greenland), and with the Department of Geography, University of Switzerland, in the Swiss Alps. Thereby, I gained experience in a variety of measurement techniques used in cryosphere research.

During my Ph.D and a subsequent postdoc with the Department of Geography and Geology at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, my research focused on the validation of SMOS products in the scope of the Danish Hydrological Observatory (HOBE), including the establishment of long-term in situ measurements, and the organization of an airborne calibration/validation campaign.


Currently, I am with the Centre d'Etudes Spatiales de la Biosphère, Toulouse, France. In the framework of a postdoc grant received from the European Space Agency's Support to Science Element - Changing Earth Science Network I am working on the SMOSHiLat project which deals with the characterization of microwave L-band emissions from organic surface layers in the higher Northern latitudes and their impact on the SMOS soil moisture products and related satellite missions such as NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP).