PRotOtyping the Retrievals of Energy fluxes and Soil Surface moIsture – PROgRESSIon

Understanding natural processes of the Earth System as well as the interactions of its different components with manmade activities – especially in the context of global climate change – has been recognised by the global scientific community as a very urgent and important research direction requiring attention for further investigation.

To this end, being able to map and accurately provide spatio-temporal information on the surface atmosphere exchanges of parameters such as of latent (LE) and sensible (H) heat fluxes (both instantaneous and daily average ones) and of soil surface moisture content (Mo) is of key importance to understanding land surface interaction processes of the Earth system, how terrestrial ecosystems work and how different components of Earth system interact with manmade activities. Both LE and H fluxes are involved in a number of Earth’s physical processes feedbacks at the local, regional and global scales, having an important bearing to the global water & energy cycles.

Earth Observation (EO) technology provides today the only viable solution for obtaining estimates of both surface fluxes and Mo at the spatiotemporal scales and accuracy levels required by many applications. Yet, at present global operational mapping of those parameters from EO instruments is lacking or is underdeveloped. In general, their estimation by methods combining the biophysical properties encapsulated in a satellite-derived scatter-plot developed between the surface temperature (Ts) and vegetation index (VI) maps have shown a considerable prospect particularly so for potential operational implementation scenario (above figure).

Recognizing that gap that currently exists as well as the strong relevance of both the turbulent heat fluxes and Mo parameters to numerous Challenges of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Living Planet Programme PROgRESSIon aims at developing a series of prototype products for the global estimation of the above parameters exploiting advanced technologically designed instruments from ESA-funded or co-funded missions.

The availability of operational products from PROgRESSIon is expected to benefit in multiple ways different types of users community requiring information on turbulent fluxes of LE and H as well as of Mo at different observation scales. The same time, project outcomes will complement other an analogous activities undertaken by the European Space Agency (ESA) and other Space Agencies and worldwide, whereas knowledge that will be gained will have also the potential to be used in extending the methods developed herein to future satellite missions confirmed already to be placed in orbit from 2013 onwards.

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CONTACT: George P. Petropoulos