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Snow is a key element of the water and energy cycles and the knowledge of spatio-temporal distribution of snow depth and snow water equivalent (SWE) is fundamental for hydrological and climatological applications. SWE and snow depth estimates can be obtained from spaceborne microwave brightness temperatures at global scale and high temporal resolution (daily). In this regard, the data recorded by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer—Earth Orbiting System (EOS) (AMSR-E) onboard the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) AQUA spacecraft have been used to generate operational estimates of SWE and snow depth, complementing estimates generated with other microwave sensors flying on other platforms. In this study, we report the results concerning the development and assessment of a new operational algorithm applied to historical AMSR-E data. The new algorithm here proposed makes use of climatological data, electromagnetic modeling and artificial neural networks for estimating snow depth as well as a spatio-temporal dynamic density scheme to convert snow depth to SWE. The outputs of the new algorithm are compared with those of the current AMSR-E operational algorithm as well as in-situ measurements and other operational snow products, specifically the Canadian Meteorological Center (CMC) and GlobSnow datasets. Our results show that the AMSR-E algorithm here proposed generally performs better than the operational one and addresses some major issues identified in the spatial distribution of snow depth fields associated with the evolution of effective grain size.


This article was originally published in Remote Sensing, available at doi:10.3390/rs8121037.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (



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