Development of a winter snow water equivalent algorithm using in situ passive microwave radiometry over snow-covered first-year sea ice

A. Langlois, D. G. Barber, B Hwang

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A snow water equivalent (SWE) algorithm has been developed for thin and thick snow using both in situ microwave measurements and snow thermophysical properties, collected over landfast snow covered first-year sea ice during the Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study (CASES) overwintering mission from December 2003 to May 2004. Results showed that the behavior of brightness temperatures (Tbs) in thin snow covers was very different from those in a thick snowpack. Microwave SWE retrievals using the combination of Tb 19 GHz and air temperature (multiple regression) over thick snow are quite accurate, and showed very good agreement with the physical data (R2 = 0.94) especially during the cooling period (i.e., from freeze up to the minimum air temperature recorded) where the snow is dry and cold. Thin snow SWE predictions also showed fairly good agreement with field data (R2 = 0.70) during the cold season. The differences between retrieved and in situ SWE for both thin and thick snow cover are mainly attributable to the variations in air temperature, snow wetness and spatial heterogeneity in snow thickness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-88
Number of pages14
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Issue number1
Early online date18 Sep 2006
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


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