On the basis of a series of studies conducted in Botswana and preliminary results from an ongoing study in Spain, developments in microwave remote sensing by satellite, which can be used to monitor near-real-time surface moisture and also study long-term soil moisture climatology, are described. A progression of methodologies beginning with single-polarization studies and leading to both dual polarization and multiple frequency techniques are described. Continuing analysis of a 9 year data set of satellite-derived surface moisture in Spain is ongoing. Preliminary results from this study appear to provide some evidence of long-term desertification in certain parts of this region. The methodologies developed during these investigations can be applied easily to other regions such as the GCIP area and could provide useful databases for simulation and validation studies. Additionally, they have strong potential for global applications such as climate change studies.