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Satellites provide data on soil freezing

Satellites provide data on soil freezing

The Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) has conducted research on how satellite observations can be used to map the soil freezing state globally.

An algorithm for detecting soil freezing has been developed using observations made by the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA) in a study financed by ESA. The method for the detection of soil freezing developed by the FMI provides daily information about the soil freezing state for the entire northern hemisphere.

"The soil freezing detection product is not in operative use, yet, but a so called prototype model covering the winters between 2010 and 2016 already exists. Next, we aim to implement an operative product that will update the most recent soil freezing state with a delay of 1–3 days," says Researcher Kimmo Rautiainen.

More information:

Head of Group Juha Lemmetyinen, tel. +358 40 730 3663,

Researcher Kimmo Rautiainen,

Researcher  Anna Kontu,

Articles are published in Remote Sensing of Environment and IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observation and Remote Sensing -publications:

Rautiainen K., T. Parkkinen, J. Lemmetyinen, M. Schwank, A. Wiesmann, J. Ikonen, C. Derksen, S. Davydov, A. Davydova, J. Boike, M. Langer, M. Drusch, and J. Pulliainen, 2016. SMOS prototype algorithm for detecting autumn soil freezing. Remote Sens. Environ., 180, 346-360.

Lemmetyinen, J.; Schwank, M.; Rautiainen, K.; Kontu, A.; Parkkinen, T.; Mätzler, C.; Wiesmann, A.; Wegmüller, U.; Derksen, C.; Toose, P., Roy, A., and Pulliainen, J., 2016. Snow density and ground permittivity retrieved from L-band radiometry: Application to experimental data. Remote Sens. Environ., 180: 377-391.

Schwank, M., C. Mätzler, A. Wiesmann, U. Wegmüller, J. Pulliainen, J. Lemmetyinen, K. Rautiainen, C. Derksen, P. Toose, M. Drusch, 2015. Snow Density and Ground Permittivity Retrieved from L-Band Radiometry: A Synthetic Analysis. IEEE J. Selected Topics App. Earth Obs. Remote Sens. 8(8): 3822-3845.


The Finnish Meteorological Institute is a leading expert in meteorology, air quality, climate change, earth observation, marine and arctic research areas. FMI is in a unique position to study various themes of climate change in the Northern context.


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