Gascoin, S; Dumont, ZB; Deschamps-Berger, C; Marti, F; Salgues, G; Lopez-Moreno, JI; Revuelto, J; Michon, T; Schattan, P; Hagolle, O (2020). Estimating Fractional Snow Cover in Open Terrain from Sentinel-2 Using the Normalized Difference Snow Index. REMOTE SENSING, 12(18), 2904.

Sentinel-2 provides the opportunity to map the snow cover at unprecedented spatial and temporal resolutions on a global scale. Here we calibrate and evaluate a simple empirical function to estimate the fractional snow cover (FSC) in open terrains using the normalized difference snow index (NDSI) from 20 m resolution Sentinel-2 images. The NDSI is computed from flat surface reflectance after masking cloud and snow-free areas. The NDSI-FSC function is calibrated using Pleiades very high-resolution images and evaluated using independent datasets including SPOT 6/7 satellite images, time lapse camera photographs, terrestrial lidar scans and crowd-sourced in situ measurements. The calibration results show that the FSC can be represented with a sigmoid-shaped function 0.5 x tanh(a x NDSI + b) + 0.5, where a = 2.65 and b = -1.42, yielding a root mean square error (RMSE) of 25%. Similar RMSE are obtained with different evaluation datasets with a high topographic variability. With this function, we estimate that the confidence interval on the FSC retrievals is 38% at the 95% confidence level.