ISSN 2070-7401 (Print), ISSN 2411-0280 (Online)
Sovremennye problemy distantsionnogo zondirovaniya Zemli iz kosmosa


Sovremennye problemy distantsionnogo zondirovaniya Zemli iz kosmosa, 2021, Vol. 18, No. 6, pp. 57-72

Spectral features of microwave radiation of coarse-grained and layered snow, limiting the capabilities of modern algorithms for snow depth estimations by the method of passive remote sensing from space

V.A. Golunov 1 
1 Kotelnikov Institute of Radio Engineering and Electronics RAS, Moscow, Russia
Accepted: 03.12.2021
DOI: 10.21046/2070-7401-2021-18-6-57-72
This work is based on an experimental study of the dependences of the total reflection and transmission coefficients of thermal radiation from dry snow at frequencies of 22.2 and 37.5 GHz. Samples of snow with fine and coarse structures have been investigated. On the basis of experimental data, the possibilities of snow depth estimations by the method of passive remote sensing from space are considered. Almost all modern algorithms for snow depth estimations are based on the linear dependence of the difference between the brightness temperatures of the snow cover, measured at two base frequencies 18–19 and 35–37 GHz, on the snow thickness. It is shown that as the size of snow particles increases to 2 mm in a single-layer cover, this difference increases nonlinearly, but unambiguously, while the interval of values of the layer thickness, where the difference depends on the thickness linearly, decreases to 0.2 m. When the particle size increases over 2 mm the difference decreases until the sign changes. The difference in brightness temperatures of a layered snow cover depends on its thickness ambiguously, especially in the presence of a layer of coarse-grained snow. The problem of reconstructing the thickness of a snow cover with an unknown structure from the measured difference in radio brightness temperatures at frequencies of 18–19 and 35–37 GHz has no solution.
Keywords: remote sensing, microwave radiometry, snow depth algorithm
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