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Remote Sens. 2017, 9(7), 733; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9070733

Terrestrial Remote Sensing of Snowmelt in a Diverse High-Arctic Tundra Environment Using Time-Lapse Imagery

1
Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Księcia Janusza 64, 01-452 Warsaw, Poland
2
Department of Climatology and Atmosphere Protection, University of Wroclaw, Kosiby 8, 54-621 Wrocław, Poland
3
Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Postboks 1047 Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway
4
Department of Ecology, Biogeochemistry and Environmental Protection, University of Wroclaw, Kanonia 6/8, 50-328 Wrocław, Poland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 April 2017 / Revised: 27 June 2017 / Accepted: 12 July 2017 / Published: 15 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Snow Remote Sensing)
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Abstract

Snow cover is one of the crucial factors influencing the plant distribution in harsh Arctic regions. In tundra environments, wind redistribution of snow leads to a very heterogeneous spatial distribution which influences growth conditions for plants. Therefore, relationships between snow cover and vegetation should be analyzed spatially. In this study, we correlate spatial data sets on tundra vegetation types with snow cover information obtained from orthorectification and classification of images collected from a time-lapse camera installed on a mountain summit. The spatial analysis was performed over an area of 0.72 km2, representing a coastal tundra environment in southern Svalbard. The three-year monitoring is supplemented by manual measurements of snow depth, which show a statistically significant relationship between snow abundance and the occurrence of some of the analyzed land cover types. The longest snow cover duration was found on “rock debris” type and the shortest on “lichen-herb-heath tundra”, resulting in melt-out time-lag of almost two weeks between this two land cover types. The snow distribution proved to be consistent over the different years with a similar melt-out pattern occurring in every analyzed season, despite changing melt-out dates related to different weather conditions. The data set of 203 high resolution processed images used in this work is available for download in the supplementary materials. View Full-Text
Keywords: snow cover dynamics; snowmelt; ground based camera; time-lapse photography; orthorectification; tundra vegetation; tundra environment; arctic; Svalbard snow cover dynamics; snowmelt; ground based camera; time-lapse photography; orthorectification; tundra vegetation; tundra environment; arctic; Svalbard
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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).

Supplementary materials

  • Supplementary File 1:

    ZIP-Document (ZIP, 22427 KB)

  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Doi: 10.1594/PANGAEA.874387
    Link: https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.874387
    Description: Grouped by years raw, orthorectified and classified images (clipped to the area with the slightest distortions) presenting snow disappearance in a catchment located in South-West Spitsbergen on Svalbard during three ablation seasons (2014-2016).
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Kępski, D.; Luks, B.; Migała, K.; Wawrzyniak, T.; Westermann, S.; Wojtuń, B. Terrestrial Remote Sensing of Snowmelt in a Diverse High-Arctic Tundra Environment Using Time-Lapse Imagery. Remote Sens. 2017, 9, 733.

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