Operational sub-pixel snow mapping over the Alps with NOAA AVHRR data
Abstract:This study is part of research activities concentrating on the real-time application of the U. S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) sensor for snow-cover analysis of the European Alps. For mapping snow cover in heterogeneous terrain, we implement the widely used linear spectral mixture algorithm to estimate snow cover at sub-pixel scale. Principal component analysis, including the reflective part of AVHRR channel 3, is used to estimate fractions of "snow" and "not snow" within a pixel, using linear mixture modeling. The combination of these features leads to a fast, simple solution for operational and near-real-time processing. The presented algorithm is applied on the European Alps on 17 January 2003 and successfully maps snow at sub-pixel scale. The detailed snow-cover information makes it easy to recognize the complex topography of the Alps, more so than with either a classic binary map or a Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) snow product. The sub-pixel algorithm reasonably identifies snow-cover fractions in regions and at altitudes where neither the classic binary map nor the MODIS algorithm detects any snow. Differences concerning the snow distribution are found in forested areas as well as in the lowest-elevation zones. The algorithm substantially improves snow mapping over complex topography for operational and near-real-time applications.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2004
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