Passive microwave (SSM/I) satellite predictions of valley glacier hydrology, Matanuska Glacier, Alaska

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Abstract

[1] We advance an approach to use satellite passive microwave observations to track valley glacier snowmelt and predict timing of spring snowmelt-induced floods at the terminus. Using 37 V GHz brightness temperatures (Tb) from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I), we monitor snowmelt onset when both Tb and the difference between the ascending and descending overpasses exceed fixed thresholds established for Matanuska Glacier. Melt is confirmed by ground-measured air temperature and snow-wetness, while glacier hydrologic responses are monitored by a stream gauge, suspended-sediment sensors and terminus ice velocity measurements. Accumulation area snowmelt timing is correlated (R2 = 0.61) to timing of the annual snowmelt flood peak and can be predicted within ±5 days.

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