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Snow depth mapping from stereo satellite imagery in mountainous terrain: evaluation using airborne laser-scanning data

Abstract : Accurate knowledge of snow depth distributions in mountain catchments is critical for applications in hy-drology and ecology. Recently, a method was proposed to map snow depth at meter-scale resolution from very-high-resolution stereo satellite imagery (e.g., Pléiades) with an accuracy close to 0.5 m. However, the validation was limited to probe measurements and unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV) photogrammetry, which sampled a limited fraction of the to-pographic and snow depth variability. We improve upon this evaluation using accurate maps of the snow depth derived from Airborne Snow Observatory laser-scanning measurements in the Tuolumne river basin, USA. We find a good agreement between both datasets over a snow-covered area of 138 km 2 on a 3 m grid, with a positive bias for a Pléiades snow depth of 0.08 m, a root mean square error of 0.80 m and a normalized median absolute deviation (NMAD) of 0.69 m. Satellite data capture the relationship between snow depth and elevation at the catchment scale and also small-scale features like snow drifts and avalanche deposits at a typical scale of tens of meters. The random error at the pixel level is lower in snow-free areas than in snow-covered areas, but it is reduced by a factor of 2 (NMAD of approximately 0.40 m for snow depth) when averaged to a 36 m grid. We conclude that satellite photogrammetry stands out as a convenient method to estimate the spatial distribution of snow depth in high mountain catchments.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-02965637
Contributor : Montpellier Erist <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, October 13, 2020 - 1:53:19 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, May 27, 2021 - 1:54:07 PM

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César Deschamps-Berger, Simon Gascoin, Etienne Berthier, Jeffrey Deems, Ethan Gutmann, et al.. Snow depth mapping from stereo satellite imagery in mountainous terrain: evaluation using airborne laser-scanning data. The Cryosphere, Copernicus 2020, 14 (9), pp.2925-2940. ⟨10.5194/tc-14-2925-2020⟩. ⟨hal-02965637⟩

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