A simulation study to understand the influence of topography on the surfaceemissivity observed by a satellite microwave radiometer is carried out. We analyze theeffects due to changes in observation angle, including the rotation of the polarization plane.A mountainous area in the Alps (Northern Italy) is considered and the information on therelief extracted from a digital elevation model is exploited. The numerical simulation refersto a radiometric image, acquired by a conically-scanning radiometer similar to AMSR-E,i.e., flying at 705 km of altitude with an observation angle of 55°. To single out the impacton surface emissivity, scattering of the radiation due to the atmosphere or neighboringelevated surfaces is not considered. C and X bands, for which atmospheric effects arenegligible, and Ka band are analyzed. The results indicate that the changes in the localobservation angle tend to lower the apparent emissivity of a radiometric pixel with respectto the corresponding flat surface characteristics. The effect of the rotation of thepolarization plane enlarges (vertical polarization), or attenuates (horizontal polarization)this decrease. By doing some simplifying assumptions for the radiometer antenna, theconclusion is that the microwave emissivity at vertical polarization is underestimated,whilst the opposite occurs for horizontal polarization, except for Ka band, for which bothunder- and overprediction may occur. A quantification of the differences with respect to aflat soil and an approximate evaluation of their impact on soil moisture retrieval areyielded.