Abstract. The carbon cycle in Arctic-boreal regions (ABR) is an important component of the planetary carbon balance, with growing concerns about the consequences of ABR warming on the global climate system. The greatest uncertainty in annual carbon dioxide (CO2) budgets exists during the non-growing season, primarily due to challenges with data availability and limited spatial coverage in measurements. The goal of this study was to determine the main environmental controls of non-growing season CO2 fluxes in ABR over a latitudinal gradient (45° N to 69° N) featuring four different ecosystem types: closed-crown coniferous boreal forest, open-crown coniferous boreal forest, erect-shrub tundra, and prostrate-shrub tundra. CO2 fluxes calculated using a snowpack diffusion gradient method (n = 560) ranged from 0 to 1.05 gC m2 day-1. To assess the dominant environmental controls governing CO2 fluxes, a Random Forest machine learning approach was used. We identified that soil temperature as the main control of non-growing season CO2 fluxes with 68 % of relative model importance, except when soil liquid water occurred during zero degree Celsius curtain conditions (Tsoil ≈ 0 °C and liquid water coexists with ice in soil pores). Under zero-curtain conditions, liquid water content became the main control of CO2 fluxes with 87 % of relative model importance. We observed exponential regressions between CO2 fluxes and soil temperature (RMSE = 0.024 gC m-2 day-1) in frozen soils, as well as liquid water content (RMSE = 0.137 gC m-2 day-1) in zero-curtain conditions. This study is showing the role of several variables on the spatio-temporal variability of CO2 fluxes in ABR during the non-growing season and highlight that the complex vegetation-snow-soil interactions in northern environments must be considered when studying what drives the spatial variability of soil carbon emission during the non-growing season.
Review Article: Global Monitoring of Snow Water Equivalent using High Frequency Radar Remote Sensing
M. T. Durand,
A. P. Barros,
Joel T. Johnson,
A. W. Nolin,
Rhae Sung Kim,
Abstract. Seasonal snow cover is the largest single component of the cryosphere in areal extent, covering an average of 46 million square km of Earth's surface (31 % of the land area) each year, and is thus an important expression of and driver of the Earth’s climate. In recent years, Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover has been declining at about the same rate (~ −13 %/decade) as Arctic summer sea ice. More than one-sixth of the world’s population relies on seasonal snowpack and glaciers for a water supply that is likely to decrease this century. Snow is also a critical component of Earth’s cold regions' ecosystems, in which wildlife, vegetation, and snow are strongly interconnected. Snow water equivalent (SWE) describes the quantity of snow stored on the land surface and is of fundamental importance to water, energy, and geochemical cycles. Quality global SWE estimates are lacking. Given the vast seasonal extent combined with the spatially variable nature of snow distribution at regional and local scales, surface observations will not be able to provide sufficient SWE information. Satellite observations presently cannot provide SWE information at the spatial and temporal resolutions required to address science and high socio-economic value applications such as water resource management and streamflow forecasting. In this paper, we review the potential contribution of X- and Ku-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for global monitoring of SWE. We describe radar interactions with snow-covered landscapes, characterization of snowpack properties using radar measurements, and refinement of retrieval algorithms via synergy with other microwave remote sensing approaches. SAR can image the surface during both day and night regardless of cloud cover, allowing high-frequency revisit at high spatial resolution as demonstrated by missions such as Sentinel-1. The physical basis for estimating SWE from X- and Ku-band radar measurements at local scales is volume scattering by millimetre-scale snow grains. Inference of global snow properties from SAR requires an interdisciplinary approach based on field observations of snow microstructure, physical snow modelling, electromagnetic theory, and retrieval strategies over a range of scales. New field measurement capabilities have enabled significant advances in understanding snow microstructure such as grain size, densities, and layering. We describe radar interactions with snow-covered landscapes, the characterization of snowpack properties using radar measurements, and the refinement of retrieval algorithms via synergy with other microwave remote sensing approaches. This review serves to inform the broader snow research, monitoring, and applications communities on progress made in recent decades, and sets the stage for a new era in SWE remote-sensing from SAR measurements.
The ability to correct for the influence of forest cover is crucial for retrieval of surface geophysical parameters such as snow cover and soil properties from microwave remote sensing. Existing co...
The influence of snow microstructure on dual-frequency radar measurements in a tundra environment
C. F. Larsen,
Remote Sensing of Environment, Volume 215
Abstract Recent advancement in the understanding of snow-microwave interactions has helped to isolate the considerable potential for radar-based retrieval of snow water equivalent (SWE). There are however, few datasets available to address spatial uncertainties, such as the influence of snow microstructure, at scales relevant to space-borne application. In this study we introduce measurements from SnowSAR, an airborne, dual-frequency (9.6 and 17.2 GHz) synthetic aperture radar (SAR), to evaluate high resolution (10 m) backscatter within a snow-covered tundra basin. Coincident in situ surveys at two sites characterize a generally thin snowpack (50 cm) interspersed with deeper drift features. Structure of the snowpack is found to be predominantly wind slab (65%) with smaller proportions of depth hoar underlain (35%). Objective estimates of snow microstructure (exponential correlation length; lex), show the slab layers to be 2.8 times smaller than the basal depth hoar. In situ measurements are used to parametrize the Microwave Emission Model of Layered Snowpacks (MEMLS3&a) and compare against collocated SnowSAR backscatter. The evaluation shows a scaling factor (ϕ) between 1.37 and 1.08, when applied to input of lex, minimizes MEMLS root mean squared error to
In this paper, we develop a radar snow water equivalent (SWE) retrieval algorithm based on a parameterized forward model of bicontinuous dense media radiative transfer (Bic-DMRT). The algorithm is based on retrieving the absorption loss of the snowpack which is directly proportional to the SWE. In the algorithm, Bic-DMRT is first applied to generate a lookup table (LUT) of snowpack backscattering at X- and Ku-band. Regression training is applied to the LUT to transform the dual-frequency backscatter into functions of two parameters: the scattering albedo at X-band and SWE. The background scattering is subtracted from the SnowSAR data to give the volume scattering of snow. Classification of SnowSAR data is applied to provide a priori information. Based on the obtained volume scattering and the priori information, a cost function is established to find SWE. Performance of the retrieval algorithm was tested using three sets of airborne SnowSAR data acquired over mixed areas in Finland and open tundra landscape in Canada. It is shown that the retrieval algorithm has a root-mean-square error below 30 mm of SWE and a correlation coefficient above 0.64.