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A blended global snow product using visible, passive microwave and scatterometer satellite data

Foster, James L., Hall, Dorothy K., Eylander, John B., Riggs, George A., Nghiem, Son V., Tedesco, Marco, Kim, Edward, Montesano, Paul M., Kelly, Richard E. J., Casey, Kimberly A., Choudhury, Bhaskar
International journal of remote sensing 2011 v.32 no.5 pp. 1371-1395
Earth Observing System, algorithms, image analysis, melting, microwave radiometers, models, moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer, snow, snowmelt, snowpack, Colorado, Finland, Great Lakes region, Rocky Mountain region
A joint US Air Force/National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) blended global snow product that uses Earth Observation System Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for the Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) and Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT or QSCAT) data has been developed. Existing snow products derived from these sensors have been blended into a single, global, daily, user-friendly product by using a newly developed Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA)/NASA Snow Algorithm (ANSA). This initial blended snow product uses minimal modelling to expeditiously yield improved snow products, which include, or will include, snow-cover extent, fractional snow cover, snow water equivalent (SWE), onset of snowmelt and identification of actively melting snow cover. The blended snow products are currently 25-km resolution. These products are validated with data from the lower Great Lakes region of the USA, from Colorado obtained during the Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX), and from Finland. The AMSR-E product is especially useful in detecting snow through clouds; however, passive microwave data miss snow in those regions where the snow cover is thin, along the margins of the continental snowline, and on the lee side of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. In these regions, the MODIS product can map shallow snow cover under cloud-free conditions. The confidence for mapping snow-cover extent is greater with the MODIS product than with the microwave product when cloud-free MODIS observations are available. Therefore, the MODIS product is used as the default for detecting snow cover. The passive microwave product is used as the default only in those areas where MODIS data are not applicable due to the presence of clouds and darkness. The AMSR-E snow product is used in association with the difference between ascending and descending satellite passes or diurnal-amplitude variations (DAV) to detect the onset of melt, and a QSCAT product will be used to map areas of snow that are actively melting.