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Enhanced SAR-Based Snow-Covered Area Estimation Method for Boreal Forest Zone

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4 Author(s)

In this paper, an enhanced method for fractional snow-covered area (SCA) estimation for the boreal forest zone is presented. The new approach, based on utilizing weather station data alongside with spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery, leads to a significantly improved estimation accuracy. While the Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) SAR-based SCA estimation method serves as a basic tool in the SCA estimation, the ground-based weather station observations are employed to still strengthen its performance at the nearly melt-off or totally melt-off conditions. The method is still improved by a new reference image selection process, leading to more accurate results and an easier adaptivity to new areas. The SCA estimation accuracy of the new enhanced method is compared with optical satellite-based SCA data. Evaluation of the method is carried out using Radarsat wide-swath data for the snow-melt seasons of 2004-2006. The results show a significant increase in accuracy when the enhanced SCA method is applied. Correlation between the radar-based and optical comparison data increases from 0.914 to 0.947 and root-mean-square error improves from 0.151 to 0.123 with the new method. Traditionally, the TKK method has provided SCA estimates for Finnish third-order subdrainage basins. In this paper, the method is adapted to produce SCA estimates also in 5 times 5 km spatial resolution. The analyses for the 5 times 5 km method indicate poorer estimation accuracy than the nominal drainage-basin-based method.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:47 ,  Issue: 3 )