The SMAP Level 4 Carbon Product for Monitoring Ecosystem Land-Atmosphere CO2 Exchange

Lucas A. Jones, John S. Kimball, Rolf H. Reichle, Nima Madani, Joe Glassy, Joe V. Ardizzone, Andreas Colliander, James Cleverly, Ankur R. Desai, Derek Eamus, Eugénie S. Euskirchen, Lindsay Hutley, Craig Macfarlane, Russell L. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission Level 4 Carbon (L4C) product provides model estimates of the Net Ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) incorporating SMAP soil moisture information. The L4C product includes NEE, computed as total ecosystem respiration less gross photosynthesis, at a daily time step posted to a 9-km global grid by plant functional type. Component carbon fluxes, surface soil organic carbon stocks, underlying environmental constraints, and detailed uncertainty metrics are also included. The L4C model is driven by the SMAP Level 4 Soil Moisture data assimilation product, with additional inputs from the Goddard Earth Observing System, Version 5 weather analysis, and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer satellite vegetation data. The L4C data record extends from March 31, 2015 to present with ongoing production and 8-12 day latency. Comparisons against concurrent global CO2 eddy flux tower measurements, satellite solar-induced canopy florescence, and other independent observation benchmarks show favorable L4C performance and accuracy, capturing the dynamic biosphere response to recent weather anomalies. Model experiments and L4C spatiotemporal variability were analyzed to understand the independent value of soil moisture and SMAP observations relative to other sources of input information. This analysis highlights the potential for microwave observations to inform models where soil moisture strongly controls land CO2 flux variability; however, skill improvement relative to flux towers is not yet discernable within the relatively short validation period. These results indicate that SMAP provides a unique and promising capability for monitoring the linked global terrestrial water and carbon cycles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8008865
Pages (from-to)6517-6532
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • CO fluxes
  • Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Mission
  • carbon cycle
  • ecosystems
  • environmental monitoring
  • microwave remote sensing
  • soil moisture
  • vegetation
  • water cycle


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