Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Scanning multichannel microwave radiometer snow water equivalent assimilation

Authors

  • Jiarui Dong,

    1. Hydrological Sciences Branch, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
    2. Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center, University of Maryland Baltimore Country, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
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  • Jeffrey P. Walker,

    1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
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  • Paul R. Houser,

    1. Climate Dynamics Department, College of Science, George Mason University and Center for Research on Environment and Water, Calverton, Maryland, USA
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  • Chaojiao Sun

    1. Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center, University of Maryland Baltimore Country, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
    2. Global Modeling and Assimilation Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
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Abstract

[1] Accurate prediction of snowpack status is important for a range of environmental applications, yet model estimates are typically poor and in situ measurement coverage is inadequate. Moreover, remote sensing estimates are spatially and temporally limited due to complicating effects, including distance to open water, presence of wet snow, and presence of thick snow. However, through assimilation of remote sensing estimates into a land surface model, it is possible to capitalize on the strengths of both approaches. In order to achieve this, reliable estimates of the uncertainty in both remotely sensed and model simulated snow water equivalent (SWE) estimates are critical. For practical application, the remotely sensed SWE retrieval error is prescribed with a spatially constant but monthly varying value, with data omitted for (1) locations closer than 200 km to significant open water, (2) times and locations with model-predicted presence of liquid water in the snowpack, and (3) model SWE estimates greater than 100 mm. The model error is estimated using standard error propagation with a calibrated spatially and temporally constant model error contribution. A series of tests have been performed to assess the assimilation algorithm performance. Multiyear model simulations with and without remotely sensed SWE assimilation are presented and evaluated with in situ SWE observations. The SWE estimates from assimilation were found to be superior to both the model simulation and remotely sensed estimates alone, except when model SWE estimates rapidly and erroneously crossed the 100-mm SWE cutoff early in the snow season.

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