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Surface roughness parameterization plays an important role in soil moisture retrieval from passive microwave observations. This letter investigates the parameterization of surface roughness in the retrieval algorithm adopted by the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity mission, making use of experimental airborne and ground data from the National Airborne Field Experiment held in Australia in 2005. The surface roughness parameter is retrieved from high-resolution (60 m) airborne data in different soil moisture conditions, using the ground soil moisture as input of the model. The effect of surface roughness on the emitted signal is found to change with the soil moisture conditions with a law different from that proposed in previous studies. The magnitude of this change is found to be related to soil textural properties: in clay soils, the effect of surface roughness is higher in intermediate wetness conditions (0.2-0.3 v/v) and decreases on both the dry and wet ends. Consequently, this letter calls for a rethink of surface roughness parameterization in microwave emission modeling.