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Sensors 2008, 8(8), 4915-4947; doi:10.3390/s8084915

Empirical Retrieval of Surface Melt Magnitude from Coupled MODIS Optical and Thermal Measurements over the Greenland Ice Sheet during the 2001 Ablation Season

*  and
Department of Geography, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 July 2008 / Revised: 22 July 2008 / Accepted: 25 August 2008 / Published: 22 August 2008
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Land Surface Properties, Patterns and Processes)
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Accelerated ice flow near the equilibrium line of west-central Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) has been attributed to an increase in infiltrated surface melt water as a response to climate warming. The assessment of surface melting events must be more than the detection of melt onset or extent. Retrieval of surface melt magnitude is necessary to improve understanding of ice sheet flow and surface melt coupling. In this paper, we report on a new technique to quantify the magnitude of surface melt. Cloud-free dates of June 10, July 5, 7, 9, and 11, 2001 Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) daily reflectance Band 5 (1.230-1.250μm) and surface temperature images rescaled to 1km over western Greenland were used in the retrieval algorithm. An optical-thermal feature space partitioned as a function of melt magnitude was derived using a one-dimensional thermal snowmelt model (SNTHERM89). SNTHERM89 was forced by hourly meteorological data from the Greenland Climate Network (GC-Net) at reference sites spanning dry snow, percolation, and wet snow zones in the Jakobshavn drainage basin in western GIS. Melt magnitude or effective melt (E-melt) was derived for satellite composite periods covering May, June, and July displaying low fractions (0-1%) at elevations greater than 2500m and fractions at or greater than 15% at elevations lower than 1000m assessed for only the upper 5 cm of the snow surface. Validation of E-melt involved comparison of intensity to dry and wet zones determined from QSCAT backscatter. Higher intensities (> 8%) were distributed in wet snow zones, while lower intensities were grouped in dry zones at a first order accuracy of ~ ±2%.
Keywords: Greenland; remote sensing; surface melt. Greenland; remote sensing; surface melt.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Lampkin, D.; Peng, R. Empirical Retrieval of Surface Melt Magnitude from Coupled MODIS Optical and Thermal Measurements over the Greenland Ice Sheet during the 2001 Ablation Season. Sensors 2008, 8, 4915-4947.

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