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Operational sub-pixel snow mapping over the Alps with NOAA AVHRR data

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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

More about this publication?
  • 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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