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Assessment of Methods for Passive Microwave Snow Cover Mapping Using FY-3C/MWRI Data in China

State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science, Jointly Sponsored by Beijing Normal University and Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University and Joint Center for Global Change Studies, Beijing 100875, China
National Satellite Meteorological Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing 100081, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(4), 524;
Received: 10 January 2018 / Revised: 27 February 2018 / Accepted: 23 March 2018 / Published: 27 March 2018
PDF [64129 KB, uploaded 3 May 2018]


Ongoing information on snow and its extent is critical for understanding global water and energy cycles. Passive microwave data have been widely used in snow cover mapping given their long-time observation capabilities under all-weather conditions. However, assessments of different passive microwave (PMW) snow cover area (SCA) mapping algorithms have rarely been reported, especially in China. In this study, the performances of seven PMW SCA mapping algorithms were tested using in situ snow depth measurements and a one-kilometer Interactive Multisensor Snow and Ice Mapping System (IMS) snow cover product over China. The selected algorithms are the FY3 algorithm, Grody’s algorithm, the South China algorithm, Kelly’s algorithm, Singh’s algorithm, Hall’s algorithm and Neal’s algorithm. During the test period, most algorithms performed reasonably well. The overall accuracy of all algorithms is higher than 0.895 against in situ observations and higher than 0.713 against the IMS product. In general, Singh’s algorithm, Hall’s algorithm and Neal’s algorithm had poor performance during the test. Their misclassification errors were larger than those of the remaining algorithms. Grody’s algorithm, the South China algorithm and Kelly’s algorithm had higher positive predictive values and lower omission errors than those of the others. The errors of these three algorithms were mainly caused by variations in commission errors. Comparing to Grody’s algorithm, the South China algorithm and Kelly’s algorithm, the FY3 algorithm presented a conservative snow cover estimation to balance the problem between snow identification and overestimation. As a result, the overall accuracy of the FY3 algorithm was the highest of all the tested algorithms. The accuracy of all algorithms tended to decline with a decreased snow cover fraction as well as SD < 5 cm. All tested algorithms have severe omission errors over barren land and grasslands. The results shown in this study contribute to ongoing efforts to improve the performance and applicability of PMW SCA algorithms. View Full-Text
Keywords: snow cover; passive microwave; FY-3C/MWRI; algorithmic assessment; China snow cover; passive microwave; FY-3C/MWRI; algorithmic assessment; China

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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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Liu, X.; Jiang, L.; Wu, S.; Hao, S.; Wang, G.; Yang, J. Assessment of Methods for Passive Microwave Snow Cover Mapping Using FY-3C/MWRI Data in China. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 524.

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