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To determine land surface emissivity from satellite microwave measurements, the surface is usually assumed to be specular. Questions about the validity of this approximation to estimate emissivity from nadir viewing radiometers were raised. This work aims to examine the validity of the specular assumption by evaluating errors induced when deriving emissivities from near-nadir measurements over snow-free areas. Brightness temperature simulations near nadir above both a specular and a Lambertian surface are compared. Errors on the retrieved emissivity introduced by the specular assumption are also quantified. The results show that the impact of the specular assumption when the surface is Lambertian is limited: less than 1% error in most atmospheric situations over natural snow-free surfaces.
Date of Publication: July 2005