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Yong-Keun Lee, Cezar Kongoli, and Jeffrey Key

Abstract

The Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) was launched in 2012 on board the Global Change Observation Mission 1st–Water (GCOM-W1) satellite. This study presents a robust evaluation of AMSR2 algorithms for the retrieval of snow-covered area (SCA) and snow depth (SD) that will be used operationally by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Quantitative assessment of the algorithms was performed for a 10-yr period with AMSR-E and a 2-yr period with AMSR2 data using the NOAA Interactive Multisensor Snow and Ice Mapping System (IMS) snow cover and in situ SD data as references. AMSR-E SCA showed a monthly overall accuracy rate of about 80% except in May. Accuracy improves significantly to over 90% when wet snow cases are excluded, and accuracy differences between ascending and descending portions of orbits also decrease. Microwave-derived SCA over dry snow areas can therefore be obtained with accuracy close to optically derived SCA. An evaluation of the results for AMSR-E SD showed a low overall bias of 1 cm and a root-mean-square error of 20 cm. Results for AMSR2-based SCA and SD are similar to those from AMSR-E. Biases and root-mean-square errors show dependencies on elevation, forest fraction, the magnitude of snow depth, and snow cover class.

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