Airborne passive microwave surveys of the Snare and Yellowknife basins to estimate snow water equivalent
Principal Investigator: Derksen, Chris (4)
Licence Number: 13772
Organization: Meteorological Service of Canada
Licenced Year(s): 2005
Issued: Apr 01, 2005
Project Team: Chris Spen

Objective(s): Regional estimates of snow water equivalent (SWE) are useful for climate studies, hydrological assessment of snowpack storage, and weather forecasting. These data are available from manual surface measurements, although this observational network is sparse, especially in the Canadian north. Data from passive microwave sensors onboard satellites provide an alternative method for assessing SWE. Passive microwave-derived SWE maps have been provided to operational users such as the NWT Power Corporation for 10 years, and have contributed to a range of climatic and hydrologic studies with the Mackenzie GEWEX Study (MAGS). The objective of this study is to assess the capability of spaceborne passive microwave data for estimating SWE across the Yellowknife and Snare River basins. To perform this assessment and develop new SWE retrieval methods, passive microwave data will be acquired from a Twin Otter aircraft flying at an altitude of approximately 2000 feet. Passive microwave radiometers onboard the aircraft detect naturally-emitted energy from the land surface, and are not an energy-emitting source. Ground surveys done in collaboration with research partners at NWT Power Corp., INAC, and Environment Canada, will provide ground-truth snow cover data for comparison with the airborne and satellite data. These ground measurements will be made at distributed sites throughout both basins that have been sampled annually since 1978.