On 12 December 2015, the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) reached its objective to for the first time achieve a global agreement on reduction of climate change. The parties commit to limit the global warming by 2100, well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius (UNFCCC, 2015).
To meet such limits of global warming requires drastic reduction in fossil fuel emissions. The magnitude of the required reduction is, however, uncertain. One of the reasons for this uncertainty lies in the uncertain uptake of atmospheric carbon by the terrestrial biosphere, and the response of this uptake to climate change. Observational information helps to reduce these uncertainties.
ESA's Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite was launched on 2 November 2009 and is dedicated to making global observations of soil moisture over land and salinity over oceans. Over land soil moisture and vegetation optical depth (VOD) products are routinely retrieved.
The main objectives of the SMOS + Vegetation project are to:
A first publication presents the SMOS L-Band vegetation optical depth (L-VOD) product and analyses its relation to above ground biomass.
The project started in September 2016 and is funded by ESA's Support to Science Element.