Potential operational multi-satellite sensor mapping of snow cover in maritime sub-polar regions
Scottish snow cover as an example of a maritime sub-polar region has two principal problems for an operational monitoring programme: the often ephemeral nature of the snow cover, and the loss of direct access to snow imagery due to clouds. At present only the NOAA AVHRR series provides images with the required temporal and spatial resolutions. Based on the availability of data from the Dundee satellite data receiving station a range of NOAA-12, -14 and -15 day and night passes were collected and processed. Three snow cover products were produced from the NOAA AVHRR/2 data: snow area based on channel 134 ISODATA classifications, percentage snow cover based on multi-temporal Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), and daily maximum snow surface temperature maps using split-window combinations of thermal channels. Noted improvements were evident in the accuracy and resolution of snow cover classifications based on provisional testing of AVHRR/3 data. Maximum snow surface temperature maps indicated a potential for mapping areas of snow melt. The principal limitation in the operational snow cover mapping with AVHRR, however, remains the loss of temporal resolution due to cloud cover.