Estimation of surface snow properties using combined millimeter-wave backscatter and near-infrared reflectance measurements

Ram M. Narayanan, Sandy R. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Knowledge of surficial snow properties such as grain size, surface roughness, and free-water content provides clues to the metamorphic state of snow on the ground, which in turn yields information on weathering processes and climatic activity. Remote sensing techniques using combined concurrent measurements of near-infrared passive reflectance and millimeter-wave radar backscatter show promise in estimating the above snow parameters. Near-infrared reflectance is strongly dependent on snow grain size and free-water content, while millimeter-wave backscatter is primarily dependent on free-water content and, to some extent, on the surface roughness. A neural-network based inversion algorithm has been developed that optimally combines near-infrared and millimeter-wave measurements for accurate estimation of the relevant snow properties. The algorithm uses reflectances at wavelengths of 1160 nm, 1260 nm and 1360 nm, as well as co-polarized and cross-polarized backscatter at a frequency of 95 GHz. The inversion algorithm has been tested using simulated data, and is seen to perform well under noise-free conditions. Under noise-added conditions, a signal-to-noise ratio of 32 dB or greater ensures acceptable errors in snow parameter estimation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)959-990
Number of pages32
JournalInternational Journal of Infrared and Millimeter Waves
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiation
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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