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Developing a composite daily snow cover extent record over the Tibetan Plateau from 1981 to 2016 using multisource data

Chen, Xiaona, Long, Di, Liang, Shunlin, He, Lian, Zeng, Chao, Hao, Xiaohua, Hong, Yang
Remote sensing of environment 2018 v.215 pp. 284-299
advanced very high resolution radiometer, algorithms, climate change, data collection, decision support systems, hydrology, meteorological data, reflectance, remote sensing, satellites, snow, snowpack, temperature, water storage, China
Snow cover condition across the Tibetan Plateau (TP) is not only a significant indicator of climate change but also a vital variable in water availability because of its water storage function in high-mountain regions of Southwest China and the surrounding Asian countries. Limited by low spatial resolution, incomplete spatial coverage, and short time span of the current snow cover products, the long-term snow cover change across the TP under the climate change background remains unclear. To resolve this issue, a composite long-term gap-filled TP daily 5-km snow cover extent (SCE) record (TPSCE) is generated by integrating SCE from the Advanced Very High-Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) surface reflectance climate data record (CDR) and several existing snow cover data sets, with the help of a decision tree snow cover mapping algorithm, for the period 1981–2016. A snow discrimination process was used to classify the land surface into snow (pre-TPSCE) and non-snow using AVHRR surface reflectance CDR. To fill gaps caused by invalid observations and cloud contamination in pre-TPSCE, several existing daily SCE products, including MOD10C1, MYD10C1, IMS, JASMES, and a passive microwave snow depth data set are employed in the composition process. The daily snow discrimination accuracy, tested by ground snow-depth observations during 2000–2014, shows that the TPSCE captures the distribution of snow duration days (R2 = 0.80, bias = 3.93 days) effectively. The comparison between the TPSCE and fine-resolution snow cover maps (MCD10A1-TP) indicates high comparability between the TPSCE and MCD10A1-TP. In addition, cross-comparisons with changes in temperature, precipitation, and land surface albedo indicate that the TPSCE is reliable in climate change studies. In summary, the TPSCE is spatially complete and covers the longest period among all current snow cover products from satellite observations. The TPSCE seamlessly records changes in snow cover across the TP over the past 36 years, thereby providing valuable snow information for climate change and hydrological studies.