Earth Observation Express

EO Express

SMAPVEX2012: soil moisture conditions derived from PALS over Manitoba

October 10, 2012 – no 55

1. Improving Crop Production, Flood and Weather Forecasts: Soil Moisture Active Passive Validation Experiment (SMAPVEX)

Accurate and timely estimates of soil moisture improve weather, crop production and flood forecasts. Extremes in soil moisture lead to reductions in agricultural productivity due to drought or reduced acres planted. NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Earth Observation (EO) satellite, planned for launch in October 2014, will be an important source of soil moisture data for Canada. In addition to passive and active microwave measurements, SMAP will provide soil moisture at low (40 km), high (3 km) and intermediate (10 km) spatial resolutions. During the pre-launch phase of SMAP, field campaigns are established to develop and evaluate soil moisture retrieval algorithms and support SMAP Applications Early Adopters projects. The SMAP Validation Experiment 2012 (SMAPVEX12) was designed to support the requirements of soil moisture retrieval algorithms and products; mainly, extended time serie measurements performed under diverse vegetation conditions, including ground, passive and active satellite and aircrafts acquisitions. Data from this experiment will also be used to prepare for the inclusion of SMAP passive and active data into the Canadian Land Data Assimilation System developed at Environment Canada. From June 7-July 18 2012, Canadian and U.S. scientists conducted the SMAPVEX at a site in Manitoba. Participants included Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Environment Canada, three Canadian Universities (Guelph, Sherbrooke, Manitoba), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, NASA, JPL and 10 U.S. universities. NASA flew their PALS (L-Band active and passive) and UAVSAR (L-Band active) sensors 16 times during SMAPVEX, complementing acquisitions from RADARSAT-2 and TerraSAR-X. The 75 participants collected 45,000 soil moisture measurements over 700 locations, as well as vegetation bio-physical data at 300 locations within the Manitoba SMAPVEX site. The AAFC SMAPVEX activities are supported by the Canadian Space Agency Government Related Initiatives Program (GRIP). For more information on SMAPVEX, please visit: or communicate with heather.mcnairn@AGR.GC.CA, or

2. Joint Announcement of Opportunity: SOAR Education International (SOAR-EI) Initiative

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA), in partnership with MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. - MDA Geospatial Services Inc., is implementing the SOAR-EI initiative. This initiative is intended for researchers in the international education community. In the proposal, the Principal Investigator must demonstrate interest and ability in terms of transforming RADARSAT-2 images that would lead to a useful informative value added product. IMPORTANT: The announcement of opportunity, planned for Fall 2012, will be open for a limited two month-period. For more information about the SOAR-EI Initiative, please visit regularly EO Current Opportunities of the SOAR Program: For more information, contact

3. Food Security: Better Farming Practices for a Sustainable Food Supply with Earth Observation

In Canada, the Agriculture sector is proactive in managing risks. In the context of food security, the adequacy and sustainability of food production in Canada are closely related to climate, water and soil conditions in agricultural production systems as well as the management practices associated with these systems. The outcomes of the science and development investment through the CSA GRIP have been critical for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the Canadian agricultural sector to advance the ways to monitor drought, crop health, soil moisture and land uses, etc. The recent completed GRIP project titled “Integrating Remote Sensing Data into Selected Models to Enhance Operational Decision Support for Crops, Drought, and Agricultural Water Management” is just one such example. The outcomes of this project, including advanced solutions for gridded climatic data processing, near real time crop greenness monitoring, and geospatial data integration and modeling have being utilized in several subsystems in Canada. In addition, its national-scale data production and applications are important contributions to global food security related research, development and decision making. Future development work on crop yield forecasting, new crop systems evaluation and scenario based analysis will continue benefit from the outcomes of this CSA/GRIP-AAFC partnership. For more information: or

4. Advancing Canada-U.S. Relationship and Cooperation: the International Joint Commission and Earth Observation Applications

In the spring of 2011, devastating floods in the area caused serious material damages, and resulted in environmental and agricultural impacts on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border. In spring 2012, the Government of Canada (GoC) and the United States (U.S.), on behalf of the Province of Quebec and the State of Vermont, wrote to the International Joint Commission (IJC) concerning flooding in Lake Champlain and its tributaries and the Richelieu River. The governments of Canada and the U.S. investigated a reference to the IJC to study flooding in the area and requested that the IJC first develop a plan of study. As EO information can play a supporting and critical role in flood mitigation, preparedness and response, the CSA Earth Observation Applications and Utilizations (EOAU) has been invited to participate and contribute to a technical workshop on Sept. 10 and 11, 2012 in Burlington (Vermont) titled “International Lake Champlain and Richelieu River Work Group”. The purpose of this meeting was to develop the Plan of Study that would be later presented to the public and the IJC for approval. For more information, contact

5. RADARSAT-2 Contribution to the Richelieu River Flood Management: Partnership Between the Canadian Space Agency and Public Safety Canada

Within the framework of the international Committee on Satellite Earth Observation (CEOS), the CSA is collaborating with NASA on various projects helping to prevent, manage and respond to natural disasters. During the spring flood along the Richelieu River in May 2011, CSA asked colleagues from NASA to acquire satellite images with the EO-1/ALI sensor in order to capture the flood extent. The ALI images complement an entire time series of RADARSAT-2 images acquired by the Canadian Government over the affected region, providing additional details thanks to the multi-spectral and pan-chromatic imaging capabilities of ALI. Emergency Management is also core responsibility of the Government of Canada and a collective responsibility of all federal government institutions. This is why Public Safety Canada (PS) is taking steps to promote a coordinated approach and more uniform structure to the management of emergencies by providing guidance to federal government institutions on how to develop an emergency management plan. Through the new Rapid Information Products and Services (RIPS) initiative, the CSA's EOAU Division, in close cooperation with PS and Effigis, developed flood maps and geo-information products derived from RADARSAT-2 and EO-1/ALI data. A time series animation of 16 RADARSAT-2 SAR images of the most severely flooded areas along the Richelieu River was also developed by the project team. The information derived from satellite imagery served geospatial information needs and requirements by federal as well as provincial stakeholder organizations, notably PS, the Sécurité Civile du Québec and Québec municipalities. To visualize the animation produced from RADARSAT-2 data that shows the maximum and minimum extent of the flooding, visit or contact and For more information, please visit:

6. Reducing Loss of Life and Property from Natural Disasters: Supporting the Caribbean Satellite Disaster Pilot During the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season with RADARSAT-2

The Canadian Space Agency, in close cooperation with the CEOS, continues to be a major contributor to the Caribbean Satellite Disaster Pilot (CSDP) under GEO Task DI-01-C5_1. During the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season RADARSAT-2 has captured some 70 high-resolution RADARSAT-2 images to-date for rapid damage assessments over areas affected by hurricanes and severe tropical storms. For the past three years RADARSAT-2 has proven a unique and valuable source of cloud-free and time-critical information for the CSDP partners in the Caribbean directly involved in hands-on national emergency management, research, and education. The Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and NASA play a coordinating role to ensure that the data collection and distribution is directed toward areas and organizations in need for timely geospatial information. Canadian RADARSAT-2 data sets for the CSDP were collected during Hurricane Ernesto and Hurricane Isaac in the eastern Caribbean over the British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Trinidad; detailed SAR data sets of western Caribbean locales were collected over the Cayman Islands, Cancun, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. The CSA and Canadian EO industry generated rapid response image maps of local and regional flood events in Haiti to demonstrate the utility of the RADARSAT system under strict time constraints. For more information, please contact (CSA CSDP Preparedness and Response Lead), (CSDP Lead) and (CEOS, SBA Disaster Coordinator).

7. Arctic Ice Earth Observation Applications: Supporting the Northern Strategy and Sovereignty with RADARSAT-2

Canada's vision for the Arctic is a stable, rules-based region with clearly defined boundaries, dynamic economic growth and trade, vibrant Northern communities, and healthy and productive ecosystems. Ice in its many forms (sea ice, lake ice, river ice and icebergs) covers Canada's Arctic waters. As a result, it touches Canadian life in many ways. It affects: marine transportation; commercial fishing; offshore resource development; the hunting and fishing patterns of aboriginal peoples; tourism and recreation; local weather patterns and long-term climate. Following multiple EO projects supported by the Canadian Space Agency EOAU division, the Canadian Ice Services (CIS) now provides accurate information about ice in Canada's waters and lands, including the Arctic regions. RADARSAT-2 contributes to the safety of Canadians, to their property and to their environment by providing information and applications on hazardous ice conditions in Canadian territorial waters. For the last up-dates on the Petermann ice island and to view RADARSAT-2 ice products over the Arctic, please visit:

8. ParkSPACE: Ecological Integrity of Northern National Parks

ParkSPACE is a four-year project undertaken by the Parks Canada Agency (PCA) and the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS), Natural Resources Canada. Through the CSA GRIP, PCA is working on applying operational satellite-based system. The principal objectives of the project have been a) the development, evaluation and testing of satellite based products for monitoring environmental change in northern national parks, and b) further development of operational PCA capabilities in employing satellite technology to fulfill its monitoring and reporting mandate particularly with respect to ecological integrity of the parks. Monitoring of national parks offers a unique opportunity to impact on land management of large areas (northern National Parks encompass an area of 238,800 km², representing 85% of the area of all National Parks), and thereby make a tangible contribution to sustainable use of Canada's natural resources and to Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic. Information: and

9. Provision of RADARSAT-2 imagery in Support of Global Monitoring for Environment and Security

Environmental information is of crucial importance. It helps to understand how our planet and its climate are changing, the role played by human activities in these changes and how these will influence our daily lives. GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) is the European Programme for the establishment of a European capacity for Earth Observation. MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. announced that it has signed a contract amendment for CA$11.9 million to increase its provision of RADARSAT-2 satellite imagery to GMES. The additional RADARSAT-2 imagery addresses the gap in data availability created by the recent loss of the European Space Agency's (ESA) ENVISAT satellite and fulfills ESA's maritime monitoring needs until the full operational capacity of the Sentinel-1A satellite is available, which is expected around mid-2014. The RADARSAT-2 imagery will be used to provide mission critical information for sea ice monitoring of the Baltic Sea, Arctic Ocean, and Antarctic Ocean throughout the ice seasons, improving the safety of maritime navigation and supporting environmental monitoring. To read the press release, visit:

10. Reducing Forest Deforestation and Degradation with Earth Observation Applications

The World Wildlife Fund Zero Net Deforestation initiative seeks to unite existing international efforts such as the Millennium Development Goals, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity Programme and the UN-REDD Programme (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) by establishing consistent benchmarks and working toward a single common goal - zero net deforestation by 2020. With their unique view from space, EO satellites have been instrumental in highlighting the vulnerability of the rainforests by documenting the scale of deforestation, particularly in remote areas. This animation made with EO imagery shows deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest in the western Brazilian state of Rondônia from 1986 to 2010: