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An initial assessment of SMAP soil moisture retrievals using high-resolution model simulations and in situ observations

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At the end of its first year of operation, we compare soil moisture retrievals from the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission to simulations from a land surface model with meteorological forcing downscaled from observations/reanalysis and in situ observations from sparse monitoring networks within continental United States (CONUS). The radar failure limits the duration of comparisons for the active and combined products (~3 months). Nevertheless, the passive product compares very well against in situ observations over CONUS. On average, SMAP compares to the in situ data even better than the land surface model and provides significant added value on top of the model and thus good potential for data assimilation. At large scale, SMAP is in good agreement with the model in most of CONUS with less-than-expected degradation over mountainous areas. Lower correlation between SMAP and the model is seen in the forested east CONUS and significantly lower over the Canadian boreal forests.

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