Monitoring snowmelt across the Arctic forest-tundra ecotone using Synthetic Aperture Radar

A. M. Dean*, I. A. Brown, B. Huntley, C. J. Thomas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)

Abstract

Detailed snowpack observations, meteorology, topography and landcover classification were integrated with multi-temporal SAR data to assess its capability for landscape scale snowmelt mapping at the forest-tundra ecotone. At three sites along an approximately 8 degrees latitudinal gradient in the Fennoscandian mountain range, 16 multi-temporal spaceborne ERS-2 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) were used for mapping snowmelt.

Comparison of field measurements and backscatter values demonstrates the difficulty of interpreting observed backscatter response because of complex changes in snow properties on diurnal and seasonal temporal scales. Diurnal and seasonal melt-freeze effects in the snowpack, relative to the timing of ERS-2 SAR image acquisition, effectively reduce the temporal resolution of such data for snow mapping, even at high latitudes.

The integration of diverse data sources did reveal significant associations between vegetation, topography and snowmelt. Several problems with the application of thresholding for the automatic identification of snowmelt were encountered. These largely related to changes in backscattering from vegetation in the late stages of snowmelt. Due to the impact of environmental heterogeneity in vegetation at the forest-tundra ecotone, we suggest that the potential to map snow cover using single polarization C-band SAR at the forest-tundra ecotone may be limited to tundra areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4347-4370
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
Volume27
Issue number19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2006

Keywords

  • BACKSCATTERING PROPERTIES
  • COVERED SEA-ICE
  • WATER EQUIVALENT
  • SEASONAL SNOW
  • ERS-1 SAR DATA
  • LONG-TERM
  • WET-SNOW
  • RETRIEVAL
  • VEGETATION
  • TERRAIN

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