Molotch, NP, Margulis, SA (2008). "Estimating the distribution of snow water equivalent using remotely sensed snow cover data and a spatially distributed snowmelt model: A multi-resolution, multi-sensor comparison". ADVANCES IN WATER RESOURCES, 31(11), 1503-1514.
Time series of fractional snow covered area (SCA) estimates from Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+), Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), and Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data were combined with a spatially distributed snowmelt model to reconstruct snow water equivalent (SWE) in the Rio Grande headwaters (3419 km(2)). In this reconstruction approach, modeled snowmelt over each pixel is integrated during the period of satellite-observed snow cover to estimate SWE. Due to underestimates in snow cover detection, maximum basin-wide mean SWE using MODIS and AVHRR were, respectively, 45% and 68% lower than SWE estimates obtained using ETM+ data. The mean absolute error (MAE) of SWE estimated at 100-m resolution using ETM+ data was 23% relative to observed SWE from intensive field campaigns. Model performance deteriorated when MODIS (MAE - 50%) and AVHRR (MAE = 89%) SCA data were used. Relative to differences in the SCA products, model output was less sensitive to spatial resolution (MAE = 39% and 73% for ETM+ and MODIS simulations run at 1 km resolution, respectively), indicating that SWE reconstructions at the scale of MODIS acquisitions may be tractable provided the SCA product is improved. When considering tradeoffs between spatial and temporal resolution of different sensors, our results indicate that higher spatial resolution products such as ETM+ remain more accurate despite the lower frequency of acquisition. This motivates continued efforts to improve MODIS snow cover products. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.