Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-899
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-899
 
14 Sep 2022
14 Sep 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Towards long-term records of rain-on-snow events across the Arctic from satellite data

Annett Bartsch1, Helena Bergstedt1, Georg Pointner1, Xaver Muri1, Kimmo Rautiainen2, Leena Leppänen3, Kyle Joly4, Aleksandr Sokolov5, Pavel Orekhov5, Dorothee Ehrich6, and Eeva Mariatta Soininen6 Annett Bartsch et al.
  • 1b.geos GmbH, Industriestrasse 1, 2100 Korneuburg, Austria
  • 2Finnish Meteorological Institute, Earth Observation Research, P.O.Box 503, FI-00101 Helsinki, Finland
  • 3Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Pohjoisranta 4, 96101 Rovaniemi, Finland
  • 4National Park Service, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Arctic Inventory and Monitoring Program, Fairbanks, AK 99709
  • 5Arctic research station, Institute of plant and animal ecology, Ural branch, Russian Academy of Sciences. Zelenaya Gorka Str., 21, Labytnangi, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, Russia
  • 6UiT - The Arctic University of Norway, 9037 Tromsø, Norway

Abstract. Rain-on-Snow (ROS) events occur across many regions of the terrestrial Arctic in mid-winter. Snow pack properties are changing and in extreme cases ice layers form which affect wildlife, vegetation and soils beyond the duration of the event. Specifically, satellite microwave observations have been shown to provide insight into known events. Only Ku-band radar (scatterometer) has been applied so far across the entire Arctic. Data availability at this frequency is limited, however. The utility of other frequencies from passive and active systems need to be explored to develop a concept for long-term monitoring. Active (radar) records have been shown to capture the associated snow structure change based on time series analyses. This approach is also applicable when data gaps exist and bears capabilities to evaluate the impact severity of events. Active as well as passive microwave sensors can also detect wet snow at the timing of a ROS, if an acquisition is available. Wet snow retrieval methodology is, however, rather mature, compared to identification of snow structure change which needs consideration of ambiguous scattering behaviour. C-band radar is of special interest due to good data availability including a range of nominal spatial resolution (10 m–12.5 km) A combined approach is therefore considered and tested for C-band (active, snow structure change) and L-band (passive, wet snow). Results were compared to in situ observations (snow pit records, caribou migration data) and Ku-band products. Ice crusts were found in the snow pack after detected events. The more crusts (events) the higher the winter season backscatter increase at C-band. ROS events captured on the Yamal and Seward peninsulas have had severe impacts on reindeer and caribou, respectively, due to crust formation. Temperature dependence of C-band backscatter observable down to -40 °C is identified as a major issue for ROS retrieval, but can be addressed by combination with passive microwave wet snow indicators (demonstrated for Metop ASCAT and SMOS). Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) from specifically Sentinel-1 (C-band) is promising regarding ice layer identification at better spatial details for all available polarizations. The fusion of multiple types of microwave satellite observations is suggested for the creation of a climate data record, but the consideration of performance differences due to spatial and temporal cover as well as microwave frequency is crucial. Retrieval is most robust north of 65° N, in the tundra biome, where records can be used to identify extremes and to apply the results for impact studies at regional scale.

Annett Bartsch et al.

Status: open (until 09 Nov 2022)

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Annett Bartsch et al.

Annett Bartsch et al.

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Short summary
Rain-on-Snow (ROS) events occur across many regions of the terrestrial Arctic in mid-winter. In extreme cases ice layers form which affect wildlife, vegetation and soils beyond the duration of the event. The fusion of multiple types of microwave satellite observations is suggested for the creation of a climate data record. Retrieval is most robust north of 65° N, in the tundra biome, where records can be used to identify extremes and to apply the results for impact studies at regional scale.