Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Assessment of Snowfall Accumulation from Satellite and Reanalysis Products Using SNOTEL Observations in Alaska

Version 1 : Received: 1 June 2021 / Approved: 2 June 2021 / Online: 2 June 2021 (10:00:06 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Journal reference: Remote Sensing 2021
DOI: 10.3390/rs13152922


The combination of snowfall, snow water equivalent (SWE), and precipitation rate measurements from 39 Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) sites in Alaska are used to assess the performance of various precipitation products from satellites, reanalysis, and rain gauges. Observation of precipitation from two water years (2018-2019) of the high resolution radar/rain gauge data (Stage IV) product was also utilized to add insights into scaling differences between various products. The outcomes were also used to assess two popular methods for rain gauge undercatch correction. It was found that SWE and precipitation measurements at SNOTELs, as well as precipitation estimates based on Stage IV data, are generally consistent and can provide a range in which other products can be assessed. Time-series of snowfall and SWE accumulation suggests that most of the products can capture snowfall events; however, differences exist in their accumulation. Reanalysis products tend to overestimate snow accumulation in the study area, while current combined passive microwave remote sensing products (i.e., IMERG-HQ) underestimate snowfall accumulation. We found that corrections factors applied to rain gauges are effective in improving their undercatch, especially for snowfall. However, no improvement in correlation is seen when correction factors are applied, and rainfall is still estimated better than snowfall. Even though IMERG-HQ has less skill in capturing snowfall than rainfall, analysis using Taylor plots showed that the combined microwave product does have skill in capturing the geographical distribution of snowfall and precipitation accumulation, so bias adjustment might lead to reasonable precipitation estimates. This study demonstrates that other snow properties (e.g., SWE accumulation at the SNOTEL sites) can complement precipitation data to estimate snowfall. In the future, gridded SWE and snow depth data from GlobSnow and Sentinel-1 can be used to assess snowfall and its distribution over broader regions.


Alaska; SNOTEL; Snowfall accumulation; IMERG; precipitation


EARTH SCIENCES, Atmospheric Science

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