3rd ISWG

Montreal Canada

3rd International Surface Working Group (ISWG) Workshop

15-17 July, 2019

L'Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

The ISWG-3 workshop will be joint with SnowWATCH-GCW-WMO
for a dedicated Snow & Cryosphere session

We are happy to announce the 3rd International Surface Working Group (ISWG) will be held in Montreal, Canada at L'Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) in Montreal, Canada 15-17 July, 2019. This workship is kindly hosted by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) with support of the Global Cryosphere Watch (GCW) of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and European Space Agency.

The aim of the International Surface Working Group (ISWG) is to gather requirements specific to surface observations to enhance both our understanding and ability to monitor the components of the Earth system including land, vegetation, snow, ice, and coastal and open waters. The GCW Snow Watch is an effort to provide authoritative, clear, and useable data, information, and analyses on the past, current and future state of the cryosphere. One of the target applications of the GCW Snow Watch is to assess and improve the quality of land surface models.

Focus of the Meeting

  • Use of Earth Observation (EO)-data for Cryosphere and Biosphere modelling applications both IR/MW, active/passive remote sensing data relevant to study processes at the land-atmosphere interactions;
  • Use of EO-data for parameter optimization including land surface temperature, albedo, vegetation state, soil moisture, snow water equivalent, water-body extent, sea surface wind, salinity, canopy parameters, vegetation water content, sea-ice concentration, etc. and the resulting surface emissivity/reflectance spectra;
  • Land Data Assimilation Systems (LDASs) state of the operational land surface modelling and assimilation systems and recent developments; sensitivity studies of surface model parameters to remotely sensed data; outcomes of assimilating SMOS, SMAP, GPM observations and their combination with higher resolution sensors such as MODIS/VIIRS, Sentinel-3-OLCI;
  • Radiative transfer and emissivity/reflectivity model development: VIS/IR/MW, all surface types, review of current parameterization for forward modelling surface boundary; description of available land emissivity databases/atlases (MW and IR); intercomparison/validation of physical models and retrieved emissivity (MW and IR, including land, ocean, and ice surfaces);
  • Retrievals of surface parameters: product characteristics and performances and expected evolutions including land surface temperature, albedo, vegetation state, soil moisture, snow water equivalent, water-body extent, sea surface wind, salinity, canopy parameters, vegetation water content, sea-ice concentration, etc. and the resulting surface emissivity/reflectance spectra;
  • Other relevant topics: model-data comparison efforts involving EO dataset and shared experiences from ongoing surface monitoring systems, use of multi-sensor/ multi-platform, multi-temporal approaches to maximize information over heterogeneous or rapidly changing surface types.


Registration for the meeting by 17 May 2019 can be performed via following this link. If you wish to present please indicate your preference between oral or poster presentation.

Important Dates

  • 17 May 2019: Deadline for Abstracts and Registration
  • 14 June 2019: Final Program
  • 15-17 July 2019: ISWG-3 Workshop
This focused meeting will have no parallel sessions, but will include both oral and poster sessions. The poster board dimension is 6' x 4' (1.8m x 1.2m) landscape. The workshop format is chosen to encourage open discourse with ample time for questions, and discussions.

Expected Outcomes

This workshop aims at reviewing capabilities of existing technology and the capacity for their use in surface monitoring, data assimilation and modelling applications. This in turn should be used to provide expert recommendations and coordination guidance for surface observations. The International Surface Working Group will:

  • Update recommendations to further the coordination and exploitation of Earth Observation data of terrestrial surfaces and land-atmosphere interactions;
  • Update recommendations consistent with the evolution of existing satellite systems and how to fill potential gaps in future observations;
  • Prepare for the 48th Coordinated Group for Meteorological Satellites (CGMS) to present the ISWG initiatives and its outcomes

Directions and Hotels

The meeting will be held in the Agora Hydro Québec. This is located at:
175, avenue du Président-Kennedy, Montréal

Please find some hotel recommendations here.

Background for the workshop

The group was formed from an effort of a sub-group (Remote Sensing and Modelling of Surface Properties - RSMSP) of the ITWG and has organised four workshops over the past decade. The ITWG has hosted a website for the RSMSP. The RSMSP group reports directly to the ITWG, and thus indirectly to CGMS via ITWG. However the new group has a much clearer focus on the land surface, rather than as a boundary to better enable atmospheric sounding. Due to this growth we successfully convened the 1st International Surface Working Group in July, 2017 in Monterey Bay, CA. From this meeting we prepared recommendations and action items which were presented at the 21st International TOVS Study Conference (ITSC-21). Further, both at this workshop and in other opportunities we have conferred with representatives of the WMO and CGMS as to the possiblity of making a call for this group to establish itself with Coordinated Group for Meteorological Satellites (CGMS) as a partner group. The ITSC is organized by the International TOVS Working Group. And is one of five current International Science Working Groups, which are recognized by the CGMS. The others are Precipitation (IPWG), Clouds (ICWG), Radio Occultation (IROWG), and Winds (IWWG). The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a member of the CGMS and works closely with satellite operators in the Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellites (CGMS) to get global meteorological and related user needs for satellite data addressed by satellite operators. We believe the Earth surface community has recognized the opportunity of a sister group addressing surface Earth Observations (EO) and we believe the effort and support from this group can be directed to a proposal for creation of such a body to the CGMS.

This workshop was created following a recommendation from the International TOVS Working Group and is supported by Environment Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and by the WMO GCW Snow Watch.