Comparison of Satellite Passive Microwave with Modeled Snow Water Equivalent Estimates in the Red River of the North Basin

Ronny Schroeder, Jennifer M. Jacobs, Eunsang Cho, Carrie M. Olheiser, Michael M. DeWeese, Brian A. Connelly, Michael H. Cosh, Xinhua Jia, Carrie M. Vuyovich, Samuel E. Tuttle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Red River of the North basin (RRB) is vulnerable to spring snowmelt flooding because of its flat terrain, low permeability soils, and the presence of river ice jams resulting from the river's northward flow direction. The onset and magnitude of major flood events in the RRB have been very difficult to forecast, in part due to limited field observations of snow water equivalent (SWE). Coarse-resolution (25-km) passive microwave observations from satellite instruments are well suited for the monitoring of SWE. Despite routine use in the Earth sciences community to document the impacts of climate change, the use of passive microwave observations in operational flood forecasting is rare. This paper compares daily satellite passive microwave SWE observations from special sensor microwave/imager (SSM/I) and special sensor microwave imager/sounder (SSMIS), advanced microwave scanning radiometer for earth observing system (AMSR-E), and advanced microwave scanning radiometer 2 (AMSR2) from 2003 to 2016 to modeled output from the SNOw Data Assimilation System (SNODAS) and Global Snow Monitoring for Climate Research -2 (GlobSnow-2) in the RRB to determine the differences between the remotely sensed SWE estimates and the model products currently used in flood forecasting. Results show statistically significant differences between the satellite observations and SNODAS in the northern region of the basin that were not evident in the southern region. Satellite estimates of peak SWE in the forecast subbasins in the northern region were 40-125% higher than the model results which points to the lack of ground observations used to constrain the model simulations. This paper recommends that satellite SWE observations should be considered for improving operational snowmelt forecasting in the RRB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8771127
Pages (from-to)3233-3246
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
Volume12
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Advanced microwave scanning radiometer 2 (AMSR2)
  • Global Snow Monitoring for Climate Research (GlobSnow)
  • SNOw Data Assimilation System (SNODAS)
  • advanced microwave scanning radiometer for earth observing system (AMSR-E)
  • flood forecasting
  • microwave
  • snow water equivalent (SWE)
  • snowmelt
  • special sensor microwave/imager (SSM/I)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Atmospheric Science

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