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Algorithms for estimating dry snow density and the dielectric constant and roughness of the underlying soil or rock use backscattering measurements with VV and HH polarization at L-band frequency (1.25 GHz). Comparison with field measurements of snow density during the first SIR-C/X-SAR overpass shows absolute accuracy of 42 kg m-3 (13% relative error). For the underlying soil, comparisons with the ground scatterometer measurements showed errors of 4% by volume for soil moisture estimation and 4 mm for the surface root mean square (RMS) height. Values of snow density and the properties of the underlying soil are necessary for the estimation of snow water equivalence.