The effects of variation in snow properties on snow mass estimation using the Chang algorithm
Davenport, I. J., Sandells, M. J. and Gurney, R. J. (2010) The effects of variation in snow properties on snow mass estimation using the Chang algorithm. In: British Hydrological Society Third International Symposium, 2010, 19th July 2010 to 23rd July 2010, Newcastle, UK.
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Estimating snow mass at continental scales is difficult but important for understanding landatmosphere interactions, biogeochemical cycles and Northern latitudes’ hydrology. Remote sensing provides the only consistent global observations, but the uncertainty in measurements is poorly understood. Existing techniques for the remote sensing of snow mass are based on the Chang algorithm, which relates the absorption of Earth-emitted microwave radiation by a snow layer to the snow mass within the layer. The absorption also depends on other factors such as the snow grain size and density, which are assumed and fixed within the algorithm. We examine the assumptions, compare them to field measurements made at the NASA Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX) Colorado field site in 2002–3, and evaluate the consequences of deviation and variability for snow mass retrieval. The accuracy of the emission model used to devise the algorithm also has an impact on its accuracy, so we test this with the CLPX measurements of snow properties against SSM/I and AMSR-E satellite measurements.