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Towards a snow-depth distribution model in a heterogeneous subalpine forest using a Landsat TM image and an aerial photograph

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For landscapes with a complex topography and a heterogeneous forest mosaic it is not feasible to map the snow depth directly from optical satellite images. In this paper, an indirect method to predict the snow-depth distribution is presented and applied to a 0.7 km2 subalpine catchment in central Switzerland. The method consists of (a) a parsimonious linear regression model which includes the attributes of topography and vegetation indices (derived from a Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) image) as explanatory variables, and (b) geostatistical interpolation techniques. A previous analysis of the forest mosaic revealed two main scales showing up in the LandsatTM image and an aerial photograph. This discrepancy in scale was assumed to be the major reason why the vegetation indices derived from the LandsatTM image were only weak explanators of the snow-depth variation measured at 100-200 locations within the catchment. Surprisingly, the geostatistical interpolation (universal kriging) was not able to improve the prediction of the snow-depth distribution significantly. The residuals of the regression model showed hardly any spatial dependence for single snow-measurement dates.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2002

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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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