New Challenge To Estimate Sea Surface Salinity from Space

At L-band (1.4 GHz), brightness temperature (BT) is mainly affected by ocean surface emission (atmosphere is almost transparent): BT=e • SST = (1-R) SST where BT is brightness temperature an e sea surface emissivity. R (0, SSS, SST, U...) is the reflexion coefficient (see Sect. 2.3). R depends on sea water permittivity and thus on sea surface salinity. Sensitivity is maximum at L-band. It is, however, very low (0.2-0.8 K/psu) and increases with sea surface temperature.

The SMOS satellite was launched in November 2009. It is an L-band radiometer that measures of brightness temperature at different incidence angles (0-60°). SMOS is a synthetic aperture radiometer which provides a high spatial resolution (~40 km precision 1 psu). SSS accuracy of 0.1-0.2 psu over 200 * 200 km and 10 days areas is achieved through averaging of individual measurements. The Aquarius satellite will be launched in 2011. It is a conventional L-band radiometer operating at 3 incident angles. Aquarius includes a L-band scatterometer to correct for sea surface roughness effects.

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