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Passive and active airborne microwave remote sensing of snow cover

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The presence of snow cover affects the regional energy and water balance, thus having a significant impact on the global climate system. Temporal knowledge of the onset of snow melt and snow water equivalent (SWE) values are important variables in the prediction of flooding, as well as water resource applications such as reservoir management and agricultural activities. Microwave remote sensing techniques have been effective for monitoring snow pack parameters (snow extent, depth, water equivalent, wet/dry state). Coincident ground data, airborne polarimetric C-band (5.3 GHz) Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and passive microwave radiometer data (19, 37 and 85 GHz) were collected on four dates (1 December 1997, 6 March 1998, 12 March 1998 and 9 March 1999) over two flight lines in Eastern Ontario, Canada. The multi-temporal, multi-sensor data were analysed for changes in SAR polarimetric signatures and microwave brightness temperatures as a function of changing snow pack parameters. Results indicate that certain parameters such as linear polarizations and pedestal height are sensitive to changes in snow pack parameters, and respond differently to various snow conditions. SWE values derived from the passive microwave brightness temperatures compare well with ground measurements, with the exception of low snow volume and in the presence of significant ice layers.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Canada Centre for Remote Sensing Applications Division 588 Booth Street Ottawa Ontario Canada K1A 0Y7 2: Meteorological Service of Canada Climate Research Branch 4905 Dufferin Street Downsview Ontario Canada M3H 5T4

Publication date: 2003-12-01

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