Reliable detection of freeze and thaw (FT) states is crucial for the terrestrial water cycle, biogeochemical transitions, carbon and methane feedback to the atmosphere, and for the surface energy budget and its associated impacts on the global climate system. This paper is novel in that for the first time a unique approach to examine the potential of passive microwave remotely sensed land emissivity and its added-values of being free from the atmospheric effects and being sensitive to surface characteristics is being applied to the detection of FT states for latitudes north of 35°N. Since accurate characterizations of the soil state are highly dependent on land cover types, a novel threshold-based approach specific to different land cover types is proposed for daily FT detection from the use of three years (August 2012 – July 2015) of the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer – 2 land emissivity estimates. Ground-based soil temperature observations are used as reference to develop threshold values for FT states. Preliminary evaluation of the proposed approach with independent ground observations over Alaska for the year 2015 shows that the use of land emissivity estimates for high-latitude FT detection is promising.