Two-Dimensional Microwave Interferometer Retrieval Capabilities over Land Surfaces (SMOS Mission)

Wigneron, J. -P. ; Waldteufel, P. ; Chanzy, A. ; Calvet, Jean-Christophe ; Kerr, Y.

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This paper discusses the potential of an L-band 2-D microwave interferometric radiometer for monitoring surface variables over land surfaces. The instrument is the payload of the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) Mission recently selected for phase A studies by the European Space Agency (ESA) as the second Earth Explorer Opportunity Mission. The L-band radiometer is based on an innovative two-dimensional aperture synthesis concept. This sensor has new and significant capabilities, especially in terms of multiangular viewing configurations. The main aspects of the retrieval capabilities of SMOS for monitoring soil moisture, vegetation biomass, and surface temperature are presented in this paper. The analysis is based on model inversion. The standard errors of estimate of the surface variables are computed for various configurations as a function of both the uncertainties associated with the space measurements and those associated with the ancillary information used in the retrievals. The potential of SMOS and the possibility to retrieve one, two, or three surface variables are investigated, depending on the view angle configuration. These questions are key issues to optimize the SMOS mission scenario, to meet both the scientific requirements and the technical constraints of the mission.
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