Andreadis, KM, Lettenmaier, DP (2006). Assimilating remotely sensed snow observations into a macroscale hydrology model. ADVANCES IN WATER RESOURCES, 29(6), 872-886.

Accurate forecasting of snow properties is important for effective water resources management, especially in mountainous areas like the western United States. Current model-based forecasting approaches are limited by model biases and input data uncertainties. Remote sensing offers an opportunity for observation of snow properties, like areal extent and water equivalent, over larger areas. Data assimilation provides a framework for optimally merging information from remotely sensed observations and hydrologic model predictions. An ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) was used to assimilate remotely sensed snow observations into the variable infiltration capacity (VIC) macroscale hydrologic model over the Snake River basin. The snow cover extent (SCE) product from the moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) flown on the NASA Terra satellite was used to update VIC snow water equivalent (SWE), for a period of four consecutive winters (1999-2003). A simple snow depletion curve model was used for the necessary SWE-SCE inversion. The results showed that the EnKF is an effective and operationally feasible solution; the filter successfully updated model SCE predictions to better agree with the MODIS observations and ground surface measurements. Comparisons of the VIC SWE estimates following updating with surface SWE observations (from the NRCS SNOTEL network) indicated that the filter performance was a modest improvement over the open-loop (un-updated) simulations. This improvement was more evident for lower to middle elevations, and during snowmelt, while during accumulation the filter and open-loop estimates were very close on average. Subsequently, a preliminary assessment of the potential for assimilating the SWE product from the advanced microwave scanning radiometer (AMSR-E, flown on board the NASA Aqua satellite) was conducted. The results were not encouraging, and appeared to reflect large errors in the AMSR-E SWE product, which were also apparent in comparisons with SNOTEL data. (C) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.