Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




EARTH OBSERVATION
SMOS detects freezing soil as winter takes grip
by Staff Writers
Paris, France (ESA) Dec 16, 2011


Observed by SMOS, the map shows the extent and depth of frozen soil in northern Finland on 30 November 2011, which is considerably greater than four days earlier. Credits: Finnish Meteorological Institute.

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.

While SMOS provides essential information for understanding the water cycle, weather and climate system, scientists from the Finnish Meteorological Institute have recently developed a method of using the data to detect and map frozen soils.

Not only can the extent be mapped, but also the depth of the frozen layer can be inferred.

The animation shown above compares data from 26 November 2010 and 26 November 2011. Last year large parts of northern Finland were frozen to depths exceeding 30 cm. This year, however, autumn has been much milder and only a small area had frozen by 26 November.

Interestingly, as the next maps show, the advance of winter this year can be closely monitored.

The image on the left shows the state of the soil on 26 November and one below shows how much more soil has frozen just four days later.

As soil freezes every year, it stores large amounts of carbon and methane, which are released back into the atmosphere when it thaws in the spring.

Moreover, there is great concern that rising global temperatures will cause permanently frozen soil, permafrost, in high latitudes to thaw - releasing massive volumes of carbon and methane and adding further to the greenhouse effect.

Dr Kimmo Rautiainen from the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) said, "The state of the soil has always been of particular interest in northern latitudes.

"Detecting frozen soils and the depth to which they are frozen from space has been an unresolved scientific problem.

"However, we are now confident that the novel observations provided by the SMOS mission will help advance our understanding of processes occurring in cold regions."

Using SMOS data, the scientists have developed a method of inferring the depth of the frozen layer.

During the freezing process, brightness temperatures increase until the top 50 cm of the soil is frozen. Over winter the readings remain stable, even under the presence of deep snow. Thawing in spring then leads to a decrease in brightness temperature.

The SMOS data have been validated by observations taken from a ground-based radiometer at FMI's Arctic Research Centre in Sodankyla, northern Finland.

Through a study being carried out within ESA's Support to Science Element, the methods of detecting frozen soil will be refined further.

It is envisaged that similar data will be produced and released for use in applications such as numerical weather prediction and hydrology.

.


Related Links
Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity at ESA
Earth Observation News - Suppiliers, Technology and Application






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





EARTH OBSERVATION
Study Shows More Shrubbery in a Warming World
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Dec 14, 2011
Scientists have used satellite data from NASA-built Landsat missions to confirm that more than 20 years of warming temperatures in northern Quebec, Canada, have resulted in an increase in the amount and extent of shrubs and grasses. "For the first time, we've been able to map this change in detail, and it's because of the spatial resolution and length-of-record that you can get with Landsa ... read more


EARTH OBSERVATION
Peres promotes Israeli moon probe

Hundreds of NASA's moon rocks missing: audit

Schafer Corp Signs Licensing Agreement with MoonDust Technologies

Russia wants to focus on Moon if Mars mission fails

EARTH OBSERVATION
MARSIS Completes Measurement Campaign Over Martian North Pole

Preparing for human exploration of Mars by measuring background radiation

Mars-Bound Rover Begins Research in Space

Phobos-Grunt mission now impossible says chief designer

EARTH OBSERVATION
NASA to change private spacecraft plans

Raytheon Announces Commercial Availability of High Speed Guard

Raytheon BBN Awarded Research Contract To Enable Early Awareness Of Emerging Technology

Russian who helped put Gagarin in space dies at 99

EARTH OBSERVATION
Two and a Half Men for Shenzhou

China honors its 'father' of space efforts

Philatelic Cover Reveals the secret names of second Taikonaut team

First Crew for Tiangong

EARTH OBSERVATION
ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers Ready For Launch To ISS

Astronaut TJ Creamer Learns Space Station Science From the Ground Up

FLEX-ible Insight Into Flame Behavior

Growing Knowledge in Space

EARTH OBSERVATION
Arianespace Signs First launch contracts for Vega

Arianespace Completes 2011 Launch Manifest With Successful Soyuz Campaign

Soyuz is cleared for its second Arianespace launch from the Spaceport

NASA Announces: Dragon To The Space Station

EARTH OBSERVATION
Giant Super-Earths Made Of Diamond Are Possible

New Planet Kepler-21b discovery a partnership of both space and ground-based observations

Astronomers Find Goldilocks Planet and Others

The Habitable Exoplanets Catalog, a new online database of habitable worlds

EARTH OBSERVATION
Stress causes clogs in coffee and coal

New eco-friendly foliar spray provides natural anti-freeze

Amazon selling over one million Kindles a week

Pilots cleared to use iPad during takeoff, landing




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement