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Snow-cover variations over the Mackenzie River basin, Canada, derived from SSM/I passive-microwave satellite data

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The Mackenzie GEWEX Study (MAGS) is a Canadian investigation that has the objective of understanding and modelling the water and energy cycles and their roles in the climate system in the high-latitude Mackenzie River basin, including assessing potential changes due to climate variability and change. The Climate Research Branch (CRB) of the Meteorological Service of Canada has investigated snow-cover variations over the MAGS region using snow water equivalent (SWE) datasets derived from Special Sensor Microwave/ Imager (SSM/I) passive-microwave satellite data for the winter seasons 1988-98. The SWE datasets were derived using four CRB algorithms for prairie, coniferous-forest, deciduousforest and sparse-forest land-cover types and then evaluated against available in situ SWE measurements for MAGS sub-basins. Overall, the SWE algorithms produce reliable estimates (within 10-20 mm of in situ SWE measurements) for the validated part of the MAGS region, although some areas exhibit underestimations of >30 mm, which may be due to the presence of a high density of lakes or a decreased microwave sensitivity to high-SWE conditions (>100 mm).A time-series dataset of SSM/I-derived SWE for 1 March of each year from 1988 to 1998 has been produced as a MAGS deliverable, which provides important information on the spatial and temporal variability in snow cover over the Mackenzie River basin.This dataset has been used in the assessment of snow-cover outputs from MAGS hydrological and climate-modelling investigations.

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.

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