Salomonson, VV, Appel, I (2004). Estimating fractional snow cover from MODIS using the normalized difference snow index. REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT, 89(3), 351-360.

Snow-cover information is important for a wide variety of scientific studies, water supply and management applications. The NASA Earth Observing System (EOS) Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) provides improved capabilities to observe snow cover from space and has been successfully using a normalized difference snow index (NDSI), along with threshold tests, to provide global, automated binary maps of snow cover. The NDSI is a spectral band ratio that takes advantage of the spectral differences of snow in short-wave infrared and visible MODIS spectral bands to identify snow versus other features in a scene. This study has evaluated whether there is a signal in the NDSI that could be used to estimate the fraction of snow within a 500 in MODIS pixel and thereby enhance the use of the NDSI approach in monitoring snow cover. Using Landsat 30-m observations as ground truth, the percentage of snow cover was calculated for 500-m cells. Then a regression relationship between 500-m NDSI observations and fractional snow cover was developed over three different snow-covered regions and tested over other areas. The overall results indicate that the relationship between fractional snow cover and NDSI is reasonably robust when applied locally and over large areas like North America. The relationship offers advantages relative to other published fractional snow cover algorithms developed for global-scale use with MODIS. This study indicates that the fraction of snow cover within a MODIS pixel using this approach can be provided with a mean absolute error less than 0.1 over the range from 0.0 to 1.0 in fractional snow cover. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.