Training on Remote Sensing of Snow Water Resources in the HKH Region

Date 14 May 2018 to 16 May 2018
Venue ICIMOD Headquarters, Nepal
Contact Persons Rajesh Bahadur Thapa
Type Training

There is no remote sensing instrument to monitor snow water equivalent at useful spatial and/or temporal resolutions in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region. To address this knowledge gap, the NASA SERVIR project ‘Managing Changing Water Resources South of the Himalaya’ is developing a combination of two products to monitor snow water resource changes on hydrologic time scales. The timing and magnitude of snowmelt from the HKH exerts direct control on downstream water availability and flooding.

The project aims to integrate near real-time snow water information into hydrological modelling software tools in the HKH region. The three-day training will provide hands- on experience for interested users on how to use the developed software and interpret individual (500 m fractional snow covered area, 25 km snow water equivalent, 500m dust radiative forcing) and combined (500 m snow water equivalent) products.

The data product is generated by downscaling a coarse 25 km passive microwave snow water equivalent product, from AMSR-2 (GCOM-W) Level 1 resampled brightness temperatures, to a higher 500 m resolution fractional snow covered (fSCA) area product, from Level 1 MODIS (Terra) surface reflectance.

The MODIS fSCA product determines snow cover boundary with high confidence. The AMSR-2 product is then downscaled to that area, and the combined product quantifies how much snow water equivalent corresponds to the snow-covered area, increasing the confidence in the snow water equivalent product. Products are produced daily and as seven days composites, and can be used to assess changing snow water resources on a weekly basis. This can be combined with dust radiative forcing from MODIS, a product that quantifies radiative forcing due to snow darkening, to assess the driving forces of snowmelt.

  • Introduce snow remote sensing products that are being used for the project and describe the open source processing pipeline to automate data download and processing.
  • Relay sources of uncertainty, validation efforts, and current application readiness levels of snow remote sensing products.
  • Receive feedback on how products/tools can be further adapted to meet the needs of the end user.
Expected Outcomes
  • Technology transfer of snow remote sensing tools to users at ICIMOD.
  • Open dialogue for feedback on product, product application, and product usefulness.
Expected Participants
  • Cryosphere and Geospatial Groups
Resource Person

McKenzie Skiles is an Assistant Professor in the Geography Department at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She received her PhD from UCLA, and completed her postdoctoral research in the terrestrial hydrology group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. McKenzie is a snow hydrologist with interdisciplinary research interests that centre on mountain and snow hydrology, remote sensing of the cryosphere, light absorbing particulates in snow and snow energy balance, and cryosphere-climate interaction. Her research methods combine field and remotely sensed observations with laboratory analysis and numerical modelling. She is part of the NASA SERVIR project ‘Managing Changing Water Resources South of the Himalaya’ where she is primarily in charge of developing tools to combine remote sensing products to produce operationally useful estimates of snow water equivalent over the Himalaya.