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Evaluating global snow water equivalent products for testing land surface models

Hancock, Steven; Baxter, Robert; Evans, Jonathan; Huntley, Brian. 2013 Evaluating global snow water equivalent products for testing land surface models. Remote Sensing of Environment, 128. 107-117. 10.1016/j.rse.2012.10.004

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Abstract/Summary

This paper compares three global snow water equivalent (SWE) products, SSM/I (NSIDC), AMSR-E (NSIDC) and Globsnow (v1.0, ESA) to each other, snow covered area (SCA), ground measures of snow depth and meteorological data in an attempt to determine which might be most suitable for testing and developing land surface models. Particular attention is paid to which gives the most accurate peak accumulation, seasonal SWE changes and first and last dates of snow cover. SSM/I and AMSR-E are pure earth observation (EO) derived products whilst Globsnow is a combination of EO and ground data. The results suggest that the pure EO products can saturate in deeper snow (SWE > 80–150 mm), can show spurious features during melt and can overestimate SWE due to strong thermal gradients and erroneous forest cover correction factors. Along with the comparison to ground data (only a single point) this suggests that Globsnow is the more accurate product for determining peak accumulation and seasonal SWE cycle. The snow start and end dates of the three SWE products were compared to an optically derived SCA (MOD10C1, taken as truth) and found to give large errors of snow start date (root mean square error of 20 + days, though SSM/I was correct on average). The snow end dates had lower errors (a bias of 1–6 days) although the spread was still on the order of three weeks. During the investigation, occasional abrupt changes in Globsnow were observed (in the v1.0 and v1.2 daily and v1.2 weekly products). These only occurred in around 1% of cases examined and seem to be spurious. Care should be taken to corrector avoid these jumps if using Globsnow to validate land surface models or in an assimilation scheme.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.rse.2012.10.004
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 1 - Variability and Change in Water Systems > WA - 1.3 - Model, attribute and predict impacts of climate and land cover change on hydrological and freshwater systems
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 2 - Ecohydrological Processes > WA - 2.1 - Identify and quantify sources, fluxes and pathways of water, chemicals ...
CEH Sections: Reynard
ISSN: 0034-4257
Additional Keywords: snow water equivalent, microwave, remote sensing, global
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
Meteorology and Climatology
Date made live: 25 Jan 2013 12:22 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/21128

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