Use of multiple reference data sources to cross validate gridded snow water equivalent products over North America
Abstract. We use snow course and airborne gamma data available over North America to compare the validation of gridded snow water equivalent (SWE) products when evaluated with one reference dataset versus the other. We assess product performance across both non-mountainous and mountainous regions, determining the sensitivity of relative product rankings and absolute performance measures. In non-mountainous areas, product performance is insensitive to the choice of SWE reference dataset (snow course or airborne gamma): the validation statistics (bias, unbiased root mean squared error, correlation) are consistent with one another. In mountainous areas, the choice of reference dataset has little impact on relative product ranking but a large impact on assessed error magnitudes (bias and unbiased root mean squared error). Further analysis indicates the agreement in non-mountainous regions occurs because the reference SWE estimates themselves agree up to spatial scales of at least 50 km, comparable to the grid spacing of most available SWE products. In mountain areas, there is poor agreement between the reference datasets even at short distances (< 5 km). We determine that differences in assessed error magnitudes result primarily from the range of SWE magnitudes sampled by each method, although their respective spatiotemporal distribution and elevation differences between the reference measurements and grid centroids also play a role. We use this understanding to produce a combined reference SWE dataset for North America, applicable for future gridded SWE product evaluations and other applications.
Viewed (geographical distribution)