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The CLIMSCAT project is carried out in the framework of the ESA Data User Programme 2001. The project focuses on soil moisture monitoring for climate research and meteorological purposes. Soil moisture information is an important parameter in numerical weather prediction and climate modelling, e.g. as used in modelling greenhouse gas emission effects. Soil moisture in these analyses is often not measured directly but assimilated from other (meteorological) sources in the absence of better information. Soil moisture information measured by the ERS and future METOP scatterometers (SCAT and ASCAT) is a potentially attractive and useful alternative.
The goals of the project are:
- To introduce and investigate the possibilities for scatterometer derived soil moisture information in the practice of climate research and meteorological institutes. We will refer to this information as the CLIMSCAT products in the following text;
- To analyse and demonstrate the (numerical and other) qualities of these products in this market segment;
The project goals are limited in view of all possible perceptions and uses of soil moisture information. The information products that may by and large be expected from these instruments have limitations in:
- Spatial resolution because they can accommodate only 'above-local' variation (local is understood as: a plant, a field or a farm);
- Temporal resolution of 'less than the variation within a day'(no diurnal cycles);
- Absent relationship with ground water reservoirs at greater soil depth (e.g. deeper than 3 meters).
These ‘constraints’ apply in fact to all satellite derived soil moisture observations for the period till at least 2015, including the SMOS passive microwave instrument. E.g. the thermal sensor on MSG may produce temporally and spatially more detailed information but it is unlikely that the signal content with respect to soil moisture meets the specifications of the user community.