A new approach to satellite-based estimation of precipitation over snow cover

Yudong Tian, Yuqiong Liu, Kristi R. Arsenault, Ali Behrangi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Current satellite-based remote-sensing approaches are largely incapable of estimating precipitation over snow cover. This note reports a proof-of-concept study of a new satellite-based approach to the estimation of precipitation over snow-covered surfaces. The method is based on the principle that precipitation can be inferred from the changes in the snow water equivalent of the snowpack. Using satellite-based snow water equivalent measurements, we derived daily precipitation amounts for the northern hemisphere for three snow-accumulation seasons, and evaluated these against independent reference datasets. The new precipitation estimates captured realistic-looking storm events over largely un-instrumented regions. However, the data are noisy and, on a seasonal scale, the amount of precipitation is believed to be underestimated. Nevertheless, current uncertainty in snow measurements, albeit large (50-100%), is still lower than direct precipitation measurements over snow (100-140%) and therefore this approach is still useful. The method will become more feasible as the quality of remotely sensed snow measurements improves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4940-4951
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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