ESA's Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity mission: From science to operational applications

Type Article
Date 2016-07
Language English
Author(s) Mecklenburg S.1, Drusch M.2, Kaleschke L.3, Rodriguez-Fernandez N.4, Reul NicolasORCID5, Kerr Y.4, Font J.6, 7, Martin-Neira M.2, Oliva R.8, Daganzo-Eusebio E.2, Grant J. P.9, Sabia R.10, Macelloni G.11, Rautiainen K.12, Fauste J.8, de Rosnay P.13, Munoz-Sabater J.13, Verhoest N.14, Lievens H.14, Delwart S.1, Crapolicchio R.1, de La Fuente A.1, Kornberg M.2
Affiliation(s) 1 : European Space Agcy, ESRIN, Via Galileo Galilei, I-00044 Frascati, Italy.
2 : European Space Agcy, ESTEC, NL-2200 AG Noordwijk, Netherlands.
3 : Univ Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.
4 : CESBIO, Toulouse, France.
5 : IFREMER, Plouzane, France.
6 : CSIC, ICM, Barcelona, Spain.
7 : BEC, SMOS, Barcelona, Spain.
8 : European Space Agcy, ESAC, Madrid, Spain.
9 : ESA, Malmo, Sweden.
10 : Telespazio Vega UK Ltd, ESA, ESRIN, Frascati, Italy.
11 : IFAC, Florence, Italy.
12 : FMI, Helsinki, Finland.
13 : ECMWF, Reading, Berks, England.
14 : Univ Ghent, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.
Source Remote Sensing Of Environment (0034-4257) (Elsevier Science Inc), 2016-07 , Vol. 180 , P. 3-18
DOI 10.1016/j.rse.2015.12.025
WOS© Times Cited 71
Note Special Issue: ESA's Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity Mission - Achievements and Applications
Keyword(s) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission, Sea surface salinity, Soil moisture, Sea ice thickness, Vegetation optical depth, Severe wind tracking, Data assimilation, Hydrological forecasting, L-band radiometry, Satellite remote sensing, Freeze and thaw
Abstract The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission, launched in November 2009, is the European Space Agency's (ESA) second Earth Explorer Opportunity mission. The scientific objectives of the SMOS mission directly respond to the need for global observations of soil moisture and ocean salinity, two key variables used in predictive hydrological, oceanographic and atmospheric models. SMOS observations also provide information on vegetation, in particular plant available water and water content in a canopy, drought index and flood risks, surface ocean winds in storms, freeze/thaw state and sea ice and its effect on ocean–atmosphere heat fluxes and dynamics affecting large-scale processes of the Earth's climate system.

Significant progress has been made over the course of the now 6-year life time of the SMOS mission in improving the ESA provided level 1 brightness temperature and level 2 soil moisture and sea surface salinity data products. The main emphasis of this paper is to review the status of the mission and provide an overview and performance assessment of SMOS data products, in particular with a view towards operational applications, and using SMOS products in data assimilation.

SMOS is in excellent technical condition with no limiting factors for operations beyond 2017. The instrument performance fulfils the requirements. The radio-frequency interference (RFI) contamination originates from man-made emitters on ground, operating in the protected L-band and adding signal to the natural radiation emitted by the Earth. RFI has been detected worldwide and has been significantly reduced in Europe and the Americas but remains a constraint in Asia and the Middle East. The mission's scientific objectives have been reached over land and are approaching the mission objectives over ocean.

This review paper aims to provide an introduction and synthesis to the papers published in this RSE special issue on SMOS.
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Mecklenburg S., Drusch M., Kaleschke L., Rodriguez-Fernandez N., Reul Nicolas, Kerr Y., Font J., Martin-Neira M., Oliva R., Daganzo-Eusebio E., Grant J. P., Sabia R., Macelloni G., Rautiainen K., Fauste J., de Rosnay P., Munoz-Sabater J., Verhoest N., Lievens H., Delwart S., Crapolicchio R., de La Fuente A., Kornberg M. (2016). ESA's Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity mission: From science to operational applications. Remote Sensing Of Environment, 180, 3-18. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :