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The modelling of radiation processes are essential to our understanding of the energy cycles between the land surface and the atmosphere. In addition to which they provide an important input to the planning of solar energy programmes.

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SMOS detects freezing soil as winter takes grip

15 December 2011

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ESA's SMOS satellite is designed to observe soil moisture and ocean salinity, but this innovative mission is showing that it can also offer new insight into Earth’s carbon and methane cycles by mapping soil as it freezes and thaws.

The launch of the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission in November 2009 opened up a new era of monitoring Earth using a new remote-sensing technique.

The satellite is capturing images of ‘brightness temperature’. These images correspond to microwave radiation emitted from Earth’s surface and can be related to soil moisture and ocean salinity.

Variability in soil moisture and ocean salinity is a consequence of the continuous exchange of water between the oceans, the atmosphere and the land – Earth’s water cycle.

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