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ADietz- European Snow Cover Characteristics between 2000 and 2011 derived from improved MODIS daily snow cover products

ADietz- European Snow Cover Characteristics between 2000 and 2011 derived from improved MODIS daily snow cover products


Snow cover is an important variable in terms of freshwater availability, radiation budget, and environmental security. Europe with its diverse climate, topography, and land cover is characterized by very heterogeneous snow cover conditions. The objective of the presented study was to analyze these conditions with both, high spatial and high temporal resolution and provide an overview of the mean European snow cover characteristics, comprising snow cover duration (SCD), snow cover start (SCS) and snow cover melt (SCM). Cloud coverage turned out to be the most limiting factor, hindering direct assessment of the snow cover status from optical remote sensing data. In northern latitudes, polar darkness added to this problem.

We applied various processing steps to the MODIS daily snow cover products MOD10A1 and MYD10A1 to estimate the snow cover status below clouds and during polar darkness. As a result, SCD, SCS, and SCM were derived for each year between 2000 and 2011 from these reprocessed data. The products are available in 500 m resolution for an area of ~ 6.3 million km². Comparing single seasons with mean conditions allows for the identification and analysis of abnormal events like in 2005/2006, when extraordinary long SCD and late SCM caused floods in Danube and Elbe River catchments. The accuracy of the produced datasets was assessed using station data from 896 climate stations provided by the European Climate Assessment & Dataset Project (ECA&D). 87% of the investigated pixels are affected by less than 36 days deviation with highest error rates in Scandinavia and for regions covered by polar darkness.

Author/Presenter: Andreas J. Dietz, Claudia Kuenzer, Stefan Dech

ESA Conference on Earth Observation and Cryospheric Science, Frascati, Italy, November 13-16, 2012

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