4th ISWG

Helsinki Finland

4th International Surface Working Group (ISWG) Workshop

15-17 September, 2020
delayed TBD: tentatively May 2021

Dynamicum of the Finnish Meteorological Institute

We are happy to announce the 4th International Surface Working Group (ISWG) will be held 15-17 September, 2020 in Helsinki, Finland at the Dynamicum of the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI). We again thank our gracious hosts at FMI.

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.

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 01 July 2020 can be performed via following this link. If you wish to present please enter your abstract in the form and indicate your preference between oral or poster presentation.

Important Dates

  • 01 July 2020: Deadline for Abstracts and Registration
  • 18 August 2020: Final Program
  • 15-17 September 2020: ISWG-4 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.

Special Issue

"Remote Sensing of Land Surface and Earth System Modelling"
deadline: 30Sep2020

This Special Issue aims at documenting most recent progress in using land surface remote sensing observations (soil moisture, vegetation, snow extent and water equivalent, lakes and land surface temperature, land surface albedo, flooded areas) for Earth system modelling applications, including weather forecasts, climate modelling and hydrological forecasts. We welcome studies related to land surface data assimilation, land surface reanalysis, as well as land surface forward modelling (VIS/IR/MW), inverse modelling and machine learning. The Special Issue also encourages studies that investigate land surface parameter retrieval, coupled assimilation in land hydrology-atmosphere systems as well as intercomparison studies.

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;
  • Maintain a record of the state-of-the science of Earth surface assimilation and prediction, and guide and focus reserach directions to identified gaps in understanding.
  • Previous ISWG contributions have been published in a Remote Sensing (RS) as a Special Issue in 2018, and expanded to an online book published in 2019 which can be found here:
    Advancing Earth Surface Representation via Enhanced Use of Earth Observations in Monitoring and Forecasting Applications


The meeting will be held in the Dynamicum on the FMI campus.

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 reported directly to the ITWG, and thus indirectly to CGMS via ITWG. However the new group has a much clearer focus on the Earth 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. Further, the ISWG had been interacting with the Global Cryosphere Watch and has been working towards a more direct collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) primarily for support of the Earth surface modeling efforts. 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.

The 4th workshop continues following a recommendation from the International TOVS Working Group and is supported by Finnish Meterological Institute (FMI).