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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Comparative Satellite Capabilities for Remote Sensing of Snow Cover in the Rio Grande Basin

Authors
item Rango, Albert
item Gomez-Landesa, Enrique - NEW MEXICO STATE UNIV
item Bleiweiss, Max - NEW MEXICO STATE UNIV

Submitted to: Western Snow Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 20, 2002
Publication Date: May 20, 2002
Citation: RANGO, A., GOMEZ-LANDESA, E., BLEIWEISS, M. COMPARATIVE SATELLITE CAPABILITIES FOR REMOTE SENSING OF SNOW COVER IN THE RIO GRANDE BASIN. PROCEEDINGS OF THE WESTERN SNOW CONFERENCE, 70TH ANNUAL MEETING. 2002. P. 21-26

Interpretive Summary: There has always been reluctance to use either Landsat or NOAA-AVHRR data for snow mapping because of poor frequency of observation and poor resolution, respectively. The availability of the new MODIS data has great promise because it has a high observational frequency and a high spatial resolution (250m) between NOAA-AVHRR (1km) and Landsat (30m). We tested the MODIS snow mapping capability and found it to be probably the ideal satellite instrument for snow mapping purposes. A method to correct for shadows in mountainous regions was also developed. This new snow mapping capability should be of particular interest to federal and state scientists and water managers.

Technical Abstract: From 1972 until near the end of the 20th century, the use of satellite data for snow cover mapping was a viable approach under certain conditions. The spatial resolution of Landsat and the temporal frequency of NOAA-AVHRR (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) were optimum or possibly better than required individually but seldom could they be exploited together. Now, with the launch of Terra, the forthcoming launch of Aqua and numerous private satellites, both adequate spatial resolution and temporal frequency is available for mapping most size basins. When these date are used in sub-pixel mapping algorithms, detailed snow cover representations in basins smaller than 10 km2 are possible. Probably the best snow cover mapping sensor for combining reasonably high resolution (250 m) and frequent coverage (daily) is MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer), on board both Terra and Aqua platforms, but the choices of sensors or satellites are numerous with most of the data being readily available to users. Comparison of the spatial resolution, observational frequency, feature detection, suitability for snowmelt runoff models and cost will be illustrated using different size sub-basins of the Rio Grande.

Last Modified: 7/22/2014
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