Operational Remote Sensing of Snow Cover in the U.S. and Canada

by Thomas R. Carroll, National Weather Service, Minneapolis, United States,
Edmond W. Holroyd, III, National Weather Service, Minneapolis, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hydraulics/Hydrology of Arid Lands (H²AL)


The Office of Hydrology of the National Weather Service maintains a cooperative National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center, based in Minneapolis, to generate remotely sensed hydrology products. The Center uses terrestrial gamma radiation sensed from low-flying aircraft to infer snow water equivalent over a network of more than 1500 flight lines covering portions of 25 states and 7 Canadian provinces. Additionally, Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) data are used to digitally map areal extent of snow cover over regions covering two-thirds of the U.S. and southern Canada where snow cover is a significant hydrologic variable. This paper reviews the techniques to: (1) make airborne snow water equivalent measurements using terrestrial gamma radiation data, (2) make satellite areal extent of snow cover measurements, and (3) reduce and distribute, in near real-time, both alphanumeric and graphic products to end-users in the U.S. and Canada.

Subject Headings: Remote sensing | Snow | Radiation | Hydrologic data | Team building | High-rise buildings | Gamma function | Hydrology | Canada | Minnesota | United States

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