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Remote Sens. 2014, 6(1), 603-620;

Melt Patterns and Dynamics in Alaska and Patagonia Derived from Passive Microwave Brightness Temperatures

USDA-ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA
Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lehigh University, 1 West Packer Ave, Bethlehem, PA 18015, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 October 2013 / Revised: 24 December 2013 / Accepted: 2 January 2014 / Published: 6 January 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryospheric Remote Sensing)
PDF [3021 KB, uploaded 19 June 2014]


Glaciers and icefields are critical components of Earth’s cryosphere to study and monitor for understanding the effects of a changing climate. To provide a regional perspective of glacier melt dynamics for the past several decades, brightness temperatures (Tb) from the passive microwave sensor Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) were used to characterize melt regime patterns over large glacierized areas in Alaska and Patagonia. The distinctness of the melt signal at 37V-GHz and the ability to acquire daily data regardless of clouds or darkness make the dataset ideal for studying melt dynamics in both hemispheres. A 24-year (1988–2011) time series of annual Tb histograms was constructed to (1) characterize and assess temporal and spatial trends in melt patterns, (2) determine years of anomalous Tb distribution, and (3) investigate potential contributing factors. Distance from coast and temperature were key factors influencing melt. Years of high percentage of positive Tb anomalies were associated with relatively higher stream discharge (e.g., Copper and Mendenhall Rivers, Alaska, USA and Rio Baker, Chile). The characterization of melt over broad spatial domains and a multi-decadal time period offers a more comprehensive picture of the changing cryosphere and provides a baseline from which to assess future change. View Full-Text
Keywords: passive microwave; melt; remote sensing; glacier; icefield; melt regime passive microwave; melt; remote sensing; glacier; icefield; melt regime

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Semmens, K.; Ramage, J. Melt Patterns and Dynamics in Alaska and Patagonia Derived from Passive Microwave Brightness Temperatures. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 603-620.

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