Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Development of a Microwave - Remote Sensing Based Snow Depth Product
by Perez Diaz, Carlos Luis, Ph.D., The City College of New York, 2018, 265; 10745516
Abstract (Summary)

Snow is a key component of the Earth’s energy balance, climate, environment, and a major source of freshwater in many regions. Seasonal and perennial snow cover affect up to 50% of the Northern Hemisphere landmass, which accounts for vast regions of the Earth that influence climate, culture, and commerce significantly. Information on snow properties such as snow cover, depth, and wetness is important for making hydrological forecasts, monitoring climate change, weather prediction, and issuing snowmelt runoff, flash flood, and avalanche warnings. Hence, adequate knowledge of the areal extent of snow and its properties is essential for hydrologists, water resources managers, and decision-makers.

The use of infrared (IR) and microwave (MW) remote sensing (RS) has demonstrated the capability of estimating the presence of snow cover and snowpack properties with accuracy. However, there are few publicly accessible, operational RS-based snow depth products, and these only provide the depth of recently accumulated dry snow because retrievals lose accuracy drastically for wet snow (late winter - early spring). Furthermore, it is common practice to assume snow grain size and wetness to be constant to retrieve certain snow properties (e.g. snow depth). This approach is incorrect because these properties are space- and time- dependent, and largely impact the MW signal scattering. Moreover, the remaining operational snow depth products have not been validated against in-situ observations; which is detrimental to their performance and future calibrations.

This study is focused on the discovery of patterns in geospatial data sets using data mining techniques for mapping snow depth globally at 10 km spatial resolution. A methodology to develop a RS MW-based snow depth and water equivalent (SWE) product using regression tree algorithms is developed. The work divided into four main segments includes: (1) validation of RS-based IR and MW-retrieved Land Surface Temperature (LST) products, (2) studying snow wetness by developing, validating, and calibrating a Snow Wetness Profiler, (3) development of a regression tree algorithm capable of estimating snow depth based on radiative (MW observations) and physical snowpack properties, and (4) development of a global MW-RS-based snow depth product built on the regression tree algorithm.

A predictive model based on Regression Tree (RT) is developed in order to model snow depth and water equivalent at the Cooperative Remote Sensing Science and Technology Center – Snow Analysis and Field Experiment (CREST-SAFE). The RT performance analyzed based on contrasting training error, true prediction error, and variable importance estimates. The RT algorithm is then taken to a broader scale, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Global Change Observation Mission – Water 1 (GCOM-W1) MW brightness temperature measurements were used to provide snow depth and SWE estimates. These SD and SWE estimates were evaluated against twelve (12) Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) sites owned by the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and JAXA’s own snow depth product. Results demonstrated that a RS MW-based RT algorithm is capable of providing snow depth and SWE estimates with acceptable accuracy for the continental United States, with some limitations. The major setback to the RT algorithm is that it will only provide estimates based on the data with which it was trained. Therefore, it is recommended that the work be expanded, and data from additional in-situ stations be used to re-train the RT algorithm. The CREST snow depth and water equivalent product, as it was named, is currently operational and publicly accessible at https://www.noaacrest.org//snow/products/.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Khanbilvardi, Reza
Commitee: Devineni, Naresh, Krakauer, Nir, Lakhankar, Tarendra, Liu, Quanhua
School: The City College of New York
Department: Civil Engineering
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 79/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Hydrologic sciences, Civil engineering, Water Resource Management
Keywords: Machine learning, Snow, Snow LST, Snow depth, Snow regression tree, Snow remote sensing
Publication Number: 10745516
ISBN: 978-0-438-26552-3
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