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Niilo Siljamo and Otto Hyvärinen


Snow cover plays an important role in the climate system by changing the energy and mass transfer between the atmosphere and the surface. Reliable observations of the snow cover are difficult to obtain without satellites. This paper introduces a new algorithm for satellite-based snow-cover detection that is in operational use for Meteosat in the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites Satellite Application Facility on Land Surface Analysis (LSA SAF). The new version of the product is compared with the old version and the NOAA/National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service Interactive Multisensor Snow and Ice Mapping System (IMS) snow-cover product. The new version of the LSA SAF snow-cover product improves the accuracy of snow detection and is comparable to the IMS product in cloud-free conditions.

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Otto Hyvärinen, Kalle Eerola, Niilo Siljamo, and Jarkko Koskinen


Snow cover has a strong effect on the surface and lower atmosphere in NWP models. Because the progress of in situ observations has stalled, satellite-based snow analyses are becoming increasingly important. Currently, there exist several products that operationally map global or continental snow cover. In this study, satellite-based snow cover analyses from NOAA, NASA, and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), and NWP snow analyses from the High-Resolution Limited-Area Model (HIRLAM) and ECMWF, were compared using data from January to June 2006. Because no analyses were independent and since available in situ measurements were already used in the NWP analyses, no independent ground truth was available and only the consistency between analyses could be compared. Snow analyses from NOAA, NASA, and ECMWF were similar, but the analysis from NASA was greatly hampered by clouds. HIRLAM and EUMETSAT deviated most from other analyses. Even though the analysis schemes of HIRLAM and ECMWF were quite similar, the resulting snow analyses were quite dissimilar, because ECMWF used the satellite information of snow cover in the form of NOAA analyses, while HIRLAM used none. The differences are especially prominent in areas around the snow edge where few in situ observations are available. This suggests that NWP snow analyses based only on in situ measurements would greatly benefit from inclusion of satellite-based snow cover information.

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Niilo Siljamo, Otto Hyvärinen, Aku Riihelä, and Markku Suomalainen


Snow cover plays a significant role in the weather and climate system by affecting the energy and mass transfer between the surface and the atmosphere. It also has far-reaching effects on ecosystems of snow-covered areas. Therefore, global snow-cover observations in a timely manner are needed. Satellite-based instruments can be utilized to produce snow-cover information that is suitable for these needs. Highly variable surface and snow-cover features suggest that operational snow extent algorithms may benefit from at least a partly empirical approach that is based on carefully analyzed training data. Here, a new two-phase snow-cover algorithm utilizing data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) on board the MetOp satellites of the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) is introduced and evaluated. This algorithm is used to produce the MetOp/AVHRR H32 snow extent product for the Satellite Application Facility on Support to Operational Hydrology and Water Management (H SAF). The algorithm aims at direct detection of snow-covered and snow-free pixels without preceding cloud masking. Pixels that cannot be classified reliably to snow or snow-free, because of clouds or other reasons, are set as unclassified. This reduces the coverage but increases the accuracy of the algorithm. More than four years of snow-depth and state-of-the-ground observations from weather stations were used to validate the product. Validation results show that the algorithm produces high-quality snow coverage data that may be suitable for numerical weather prediction, hydrological modeling, and other applications.

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