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  • Radar & Remote Sensing

ASMERS - Assessment of Soil Moisture Extremes using RADARSAT-2 and SMOS

Intedned to increase Radarsat-2 utilization by providing tools and improved models to detect soil moisture extremes and target acquisition

In addition to the existing analysis functions of RADARSAT-2 and SMOS, this will allow building time series for the two products and scale one to the other for comparison


Canada has a need for monitoring soil moisture, both regionally and globally, in the context of agricultural and environmental applications. Microwave remote sensing techniques for estimation of surface soil moisture, although in early stages, hold great promise for the future. While passive microwave offers a good temporal resolution, it is not yet able to match the spatial resolution offered by methods relying on active RADAR and in particular Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). There are numerous applications which require accurate estimates of soil moisture. One such application is assessment of soil moisture extremes. The ability to identify areas at risk of soil moisture extremes and to map these using multi-resolution microwave sensors is essential for government agencies like Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in implementing science-based decision making and reducing government liability resulting from climate related extremes. Another important application is weather forecasting. Accurate estimates of soil moisture over the globe play a key role in weather forecasting applications managed by Environment Canada (EC) and national meteorological centres.

The primary objective of the project is to improve SMOS soil moisture products and use them in conjunction with RADARSAT-2 based soil moisture data to assess soil moisture extremes over selected sites in Canada. The improvements of SMOS products are achieved by improving the external data as well as configuration parameters used by the Level 2 algorithms.

At the end of the project, the expected result will be:

  • A review of soil moisture estimation using active and passive microwave: a comparative study,
  • Improved SMOS soil moisture products for over Canada and elsewhere,
  • An enhanced tool to better exploit RADARSAT-2 and SMOS data in particular for soil moisture comparison,
  • Scientific results concerning the impact of improved land cover and soil properties data for soil moisture estimation, and
  • Results of the study concerning assessment of soil moisture extremes using RADARSAT-2 and SMOS: benefits, potential for operation, further work.

In summary, the project will exploit both the SMOS and RADARSAT-2 data and results in improved soil moisture retrievals over Canadian regions which in turn will help AAFC and EC with making increased use of RADARSAT-2 data to meet their objectives of agricultural risk management programs and improvements in weather prediction respectively.