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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Future Soil Moisture Satellite Missions and Research Needs

Authors
item Njoku, E. - NASA JPL
item Jackson, Thomas
item O'Neill, P. - NASA GSFC

Submitted to: American Geophysical Union
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 7, 2001
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: During the coming decade, launches of a number of satellite microwave sensors will provide new and unique opportunities for acquiring global information on the amount and distribution of surface soil moisture and its frozen/thawed state. This new information will provide potentially significant enhancements to the predictive capabilities of numerical weather and climate models as well as improved capabilities for monitoring and predicting floods, droughts, and other natural hazards. The development focus has been on L-band (1.4 GHz) passive microwave sensors (radiometers) as the basis for new satellite mission concepts since these instruments are uniquely suited to acquiring soil moisture information over a wide range of vegetation and heterogeneous terrain, and under nearly all weather conditions. Active microwave sensors (radars) can provide higher spatial resolution measurements and, in combination with passive sensors, enhanced information on surface moisture and its freeze/thaw condition. Among the new soil moisture mission concepts under consideration for launch in ~2005 or later are the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) and Hydrosphere States (HYDROS) missions, and higher-resolution follow-on missions. These missions use different but complementary technological approaches to surface soil moisture sensing. Research issues include development of new processing and retrieval algorithms, methods for jointly assimilating satellite-derived and in-situ data into hydrologic models, and validation of derived soil moisture data and products. An overview of the current soil moisture mission and planning status, and ongoing and needed research is presented.

Last Modified: 7/24/2014
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