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Time-series analysis of passive-microwave-derived central North American snow water equivalent imagery

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The Meteorological Service of Canada has developed a series of operational snow water equivalent (SWE) retrieval algorithms for central Canada, based on the vertically polarized difference index for the 19 and 37 GHz channels of the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I). Separate algorithms derive SWE for open environments, deciduous, coniferous and sparse forest cover. A final SWE value represents the area-weighted average based on the proportional land cover within each pixel. In this study, 5 day averaged (pentad) passive-microwave-derived SWE imagery for the winter season (December-February) of 1994/95 is compared to in situ data from central Canada in order to assess algorithm performance. Investigation of regions with varying proportional land cover within the four algorithm classes shows that retrieved SWE remains within ±10-20 mm of surface observations, independent of fractional within-pixel land cover. Following algorithm evaluation, ten winter seasons (1988/89 through 1997/98) of pentad central North American SWE imagery are subjected to a rotated principal-component analysis (PCA). Although there are no trends in total study-area SWE, the PCA results identify the interseasonal variability in the SWE accumulation and ablation centers of action through the SSM/I time series.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-01-01

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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