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Microwave radiometry has been extensively used in order to estimate snow water equivalent in northern regions. However, for boreal and taiga environments, the presence of forest causes important uncertainties in the estimates. Variations in snow cover and vegetation in northeastern Canada (north of the Québec province) were characterized in a transect from 50°N to 60 °N during the International Polar Year field campaign of February 2008. Forest properties show a strong latitudinal gradient in fraction and stem volume. A large database (>; 2000 points with a stem volume ranging between 0 and 700 m3 ·ha-1) showed that brightness temperatures (Tb) decrease as forest cover fraction decreases until a cover fraction of about 25% is reached. Furthermore, Tb values saturate at high stem volume, particularly at 37 GHz. We defined new relationships for the forest transmissivity as a function of stem volume and depending on the frequency/polarization. The proposed relationships give asymptotic transmissivity saturation levels of 0.51, 0.55, 0.53, and 0.53 for 19 GHz [vertical (V) polarization], 19 GHz [horizontal (H) polarization], 37 GHz (V polarization), and 37 GHz (H polarization), respectively. These relationships were used to estimate snow Tb from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-Earth Observing System brightness temperatures at 18.7 and 36.5 GHz, and results show an estimated snow brightness temperature well correlated to the airborne snow brightness temperatures over vegetation-free areas.
Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:49 , Issue: 10 )
Date of Publication: Oct. 2011