Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Tools for automatic snow mapping with optical and radar satellite

Methods and software have been refined to enable automated snow mapping for imaging radar (synthetic aperture radar, SAR) and optical sensors. The processing steps include terrain-corrected geocoding for any kind of terrain (if digital elevation data area available), classification of snow covered area based on backscattering (radar) or multi-spectral reflectance signatures (optical), and transformation of the data into various types of map projection. SAR enables observation of the Earth´s surface independent of clouds and daylight, thus being of interest for operational applications in hydrology and water management.

A limitation of the presently available SAR sensors is that they enable detection only for melting snow. The methods and software were successfully tested for SAR on board the satellites Envisat, ERS-1, ERS-2, Radarsat and SIR-C/X-SAR. For optical sensors the snow classification tool was applied and tested for medium resolution (MODIS, MERIS) and high resolution sensors (Landsat, ASTER, etc.).

Snow cover maps for SAR and optical imagery show some systematic differences because of different observation geometries, sensor resolutions and sensitivities to snow physical properties. Therefore a procedure was developed for homogenizing the snow cover maps from the different sensors. The developed software enables the exploitation of a wide range of sensors for snow mapping and is suitable for operational applications in real time.

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Result In Brief

Reported by

Univ. of Innsbruck, Inst. for Meteorology & Geophysics
Innrain 52
6020 Innsbruck
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