Snow accumulation and depletion at specific locations can be monitored from space by observing related variations in microwave brightness temperatures. Using vertically and horizontally polarized brightness temperatures from the Nimbus 6 Electrically Scanning Microwave Radiometer, a discriminant function can be used to separate snow from no snow areas and map snowcovered area on a continental basis. For dry snow conditions on the Canadian high plains significant relationships between snow depth or water equivalent and microwave brightness temperature were developed which could permit remote determination of these snow properties after acquisition of a wider range of data. The presence of melt water in the snowpack causes a marked increase in brightness temperature which can be used to predict snowpack priming and timing of runoff. As the resolutions of satellite microwave sensors improve the application of these results to snow hydrology problems should increase.
- Received November 2, 1978.
- © IWA Publishing 1979