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Hemispheric-scale comparison and evaluation of passive-microwave snow algorithms

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Passive-microwave satellite remote sensing can greatly enhance large-scale snow measurements based on visible satellite data alone because of the ability to acquire data through most clouds or during darkness as well as to provide a measure of snow depth or water equivalent. This study provides preliminary results from the comparison and evaluation of several different passive-microwave algorithms. These algorithms represent examples which include both mid- and high-frequency channels, vertical and horizontal polarizations and polarization-difference approaches. In our comparisons we utilize larger, more comprehensive, validation datasets which can be expected to provide a full range of snow/climate conditions rather than limited data which may only represent a "snapshot" in time and space. Evaluation of snow extent derived from passive-microwave data is undertaken through comparison with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Northern Hemisphere snow charts which are based on visible-band satellite data. Results clearly indicate those time periods and geographic regions where the two techniques agree and where they tend to consistently disagree. Validation of snow water equivalent derived from passive-microwave data is undertaken using measurements from snow-course transects in the former Soviet Union. Preliminary results indicate a general tendency for nearly all of the algorithms to underestimate snow water equivalent.

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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