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TerraSAR-X Time Series Fill a Gap in Spaceborne Snowmelt Monitoring of Small Arctic Catchments - A Case Study on Qikiqtaruk (Herschel Island), Canada

Stettner, Samuel and Lantuit, Hugues and Heim, Birgit and Eppler, Jayson and Roth, Achim and Bartsch, Annett and Rabus, Bernhard (2019) TerraSAR-X Time Series Fill a Gap in Spaceborne Snowmelt Monitoring of Small Arctic Catchments - A Case Study on Qikiqtaruk (Herschel Island), Canada. In: Ten Years of TerraSAR-X Scientific Results (ISBN = 978-3-03897-724-7) Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). pp. 386-411. ISBN 978-3-03897-724-7 (Pbk); 978-3-03897-725-4 (PDF). ISSN 2072-4292

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Abstract

The timing of snowmelt is an important turning point in the seasonal cycle of small Arctic catchments. The TerraSAR-X (TSX) satellite mission is a synthetic aperture radar system (SAR) with high potential to measure the high spatiotemporal variability of snow cover extent (SCE) and fractional snow cover (FSC) on the small catchment scale. We investigate the performance of multipolarized and multi-pass TSX X-Band SAR data in monitoring SCE and FSC in small Arctic Tundra catchments of Qikiqtaruk (Herschel Island) off the Yukon Coast in the Western Canadian Arctic. We applied a threshold based segmentation on ratio images between TSX images with wet snow and a dry snow reference, and tested the performance of two different thresholds. We quantitatively compared TSX- and Landsat 8-derived SCE maps using confusion matrices and analyzed the spatiotemporal dynamics of snowmelt from 2015 to 2017 using TSX, Landsat 8 and in situ time lapse data. Our data showed that the quality of SCE maps from TSX X-Band data is strongly influenced by polarization and to a lesser degree by incidence angle. VH polarized TSX data performed best in deriving SCE when compared to Landsat 8. TSX derived SCE maps from VH polarization detected late lying snow patches that were not detected by Landsat 8. Results of a local assessment of TSX FSC against the in situ data showed that TSX FSC accurately captured the temporal dynamics of different snow melt regimes that were related to topographic characteristics of the studied catchments. Both in situ and TSX FSC showed a longer snowmelt period in a catchment with higher contributions of steep valleys and a shorter snowmelt period in a catchment with higher contributions of upland terrain. Landsat 8 had fundamental data gaps during the snowmelt period in all 3 years due to cloud cover. The results also revealed that by choosing a positive threshold of 1 dB, detection of ice layers due to diurnal temperature variations resulted in a more accurate estimation of snow cover than a negative threshold that detects wet snow alone. We find that TSX X-Band data in VH polarization performs at a comparable quality to Landsat 8 in deriving SCE maps when a positive threshold is used. We conclude that TSX data polarization can be used to accurately monitor snowmelt events at high temporal and spatial resolution, overcoming limitations of Landsat 8, which due to cloud related data gaps generally only indicated the onset and end of snowmelt.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/133844/
Document Type:Contribution to a Collection
Title:TerraSAR-X Time Series Fill a Gap in Spaceborne Snowmelt Monitoring of Small Arctic Catchments - A Case Study on Qikiqtaruk (Herschel Island), Canada
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthors ORCID iD
Stettner, Samuelsamuel.stettner (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Lantuit, HuguesAlfred-Wegener-Institut, Potsdamhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-1497-6760
Heim, BirgitAlfred-Wegener-Institut, PotsdamUNSPECIFIED
Eppler, JaysonUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Roth, AchimAchim.Roth (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Bartsch, AnnettUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Rabus, BernhardUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date:April 2019
Journal or Publication Title:Ten Years of TerraSAR-X Scientific Results (ISBN = 978-3-03897-724-7)
Refereed publication:No
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In SCOPUS:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
DOI :10.3390/rs10071155
Page Range:pp. 386-411
Editors:
EditorsEmail
Eineder, MichaelDLR-IMF
Roth, AchimDLR-DFD
Moreira, AlbertoDLR-IHR
Publisher:Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)
ISSN:2072-4292
ISBN:978-3-03897-724-7 (Pbk); 978-3-03897-725-4 (PDF)
Status:Published
Keywords:Snow Cover Extent (SCE); TerraSAR-X; Landsat; wet snow; small Arctic catchments; satellite time series
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Earth Observation
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EO - Erdbeobachtung
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - TSX/TDS Payload ground segment
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:German Remote Sensing Data Center > Land Surface Dynamics
Deposited By: Roth, Achim
Deposited On:23 Jan 2020 12:43
Last Modified:23 Jan 2020 12:43

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