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Remote Sens. 2015, 7(6), 6741-6762;

Snow Cover Variations and Controlling Factors at Upper Heihe River Basin, Northwestern China

Department of Geological Sciences, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA
Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
Jiangsu Provincial Key Laboratory of Geographic Information Science and Technology, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Xin Li, Yuei-An Liou, Qinhuo Liu and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 1 January 2015 / Accepted: 13 May 2015 / Published: 26 May 2015
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Snow is an important water resource and greatly influences water availability in the downstream areas. In this study, snow cover variations of the Upper Heihe River Basin (UHRB) during hydrological years (HY) 2003–2013 (September through August) is examined using the flexible multiday-combined MODIS snow cover products. Spatial distribution and pattern of snow cover from year to year for the basin is found to be relatively stable, with maximum snow cover area (SCA) and snow cover days occurring in HY2004, HY2008 and HY2012. A method, based on correlation coefficients between SCA and climate factors (mainly air temperature and precipitation), is presented to identify the threshold altitude that determines contributions of climate factors to SCA. A threshold altitude of 3650 ± 150 m is found for the UHRB, where below this altitude, both air temperature (Tair) and precipitation are negative factors on SCA, except in the winter season when both are positive factors. Above the threshold altitude, precipitation acts as a positive factor except in summer, while Tair is a negative factor except in autumn. Overall, Tair is the primary controlling factor on SCA below the threshold altitude, while precipitation is the primary controlling factor on SCA above the threshold altitude. View Full-Text
Keywords: snow cover variations; climate factors; threshold altitude; sublimation snow cover variations; climate factors; threshold altitude; sublimation

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Bi, Y.; Xie, H.; Huang, C.; Ke, C. Snow Cover Variations and Controlling Factors at Upper Heihe River Basin, Northwestern China. Remote Sens. 2015, 7, 6741-6762.

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