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Accurate estimation of Gaussian noise level is of fundamental interest in a wide variety of vision and image processing applications as it is critical to the processing techniques that follow. In this paper, a new effective noise level estimation method is proposed on the basis of the study of singular values of noise-corrupted images. Two novel aspects of this paper address the major challenges in noise estimation: 1) the use of the tail of singular values for noise estimation to alleviate the influence of the signal on the data basis for the noise estimation process and 2) the addition of known noise to estimate the content-dependent parameter, so that the proposed scheme is adaptive to visual signals, thereby enabling a wider application scope of the proposed scheme. The analysis and experiment results demonstrate that the proposed algorithm can reliably infer noise levels and show robust behavior over a wide range of visual content and noise conditions, and that is outperforms relevant existing methods.