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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Snow Cover Evolution in the Gran Paradiso National Park, Italian Alps, Using the Earth Observation Data Cube

1
Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva, Bd Carl-Vogt 66, CH-1205 Geneva, Switzerland
2
Department of F.-A. Forel for Environment and Water Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, University of Geneva, Bd Carl-Vogt 66, CH-1205 Geneva, Switzerland
3
UNEP/GRID-Geneva, 11 ch. des Anémones, CH-1219 Châtelaine, Switzerland
4
Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, National Research Council (ISAC-CNR), corso Fiume 4, 10133 Torino, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Data 2019, 4(4), 138; https://doi.org/10.3390/data4040138
Received: 13 June 2019 / Revised: 2 October 2019 / Accepted: 3 October 2019 / Published: 9 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Earth Observation Data Cubes)
Mountainous regions are particularly vulnerable to climate change, and the impacts are already extensive and observable, the implications of which go far beyond mountain boundaries and the environmental sectors. Monitoring and understanding climate and environmental changes in mountain regions is, therefore, needed. One of the key variables to study is snow cover, since it represents an essential driver of many ecological, hydrological and socioeconomic processes in mountains. As remotely sensed data can contribute to filling the gap of sparse in-situ stations in high-altitude environments, a methodology for snow cover detection through time series analyses using Landsat satellite observations stored in an Open Data Cube is described in this paper, and applied to a case study on the Gran Paradiso National Park, in the western Italian Alps. In particular, this study presents a proof of concept of the preliminary version of the snow observation from space algorithm applied to Landsat data stored in the Swiss Data Cube. Implemented in an Earth Observation Data Cube environment, the algorithm can process a large amount of remote sensing data ready for analysis and can compile all Landsat series since 1984 into one single multi-sensor dataset. Temporal filtering methodology and multi-sensors analysis allows one to considerably reduce the uncertainty in the estimation of snow cover area using high-resolution sensors. The study highlights that, despite this methodology, the lack of available cloud-free images still represents a big issue for snow cover mapping from satellite data. Though accurate mapping of snow extent below cloud cover with optical sensors still represents a challenge, spatial and temporal filtering techniques and radar imagery for future time series analyses will likely allow one to reduce the current cloud cover issue. View Full-Text
Keywords: data cube; optical remote sensing; snow cover; Gran Paradiso National Park; climate change data cube; optical remote sensing; snow cover; Gran Paradiso National Park; climate change
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Poussin, C.; Guigoz, Y.; Palazzi, E.; Terzago, S.; Chatenoux, B.; Giuliani, G. Snow Cover Evolution in the Gran Paradiso National Park, Italian Alps, Using the Earth Observation Data Cube. Data 2019, 4, 138.

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