Satellite remote sensing of blowing snow properties over Antarctica

Palm, S. P., Y. Yang, J. Spinhirne, and A. Marshak (2011), Satellite remote sensing of blowing snow properties over Antarctica, J. Geophys. Res., 116, D16123, doi:10.1029/2011JD015828.

A new technique for the detection of blowing snow events using satellite lidar data is applied to Cloud‐Aerosol LIdar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) observations to obtain the spatial and temporal frequency, layer height, and optical depth of blowing snow events over Antarctica for 2007 through 2009. In addition, spatially and temporally collocated multichannel Moderate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data are utilized for the detection of two blowing snow events in sunlight. Blowing snow frequency as high as 70% is found to occur in some regions of Antarctica during winter. The spatial distribution of blowing snow closely follows the katabatic wind pattern with the exception of an area in East Antarctica that encompasses the megadune region, where the most persistent and largest area of blowing snow occurs. Layer thickness ranges from the minimum detectable (30 m) to about 1000 m with an average depth of 120 m for all blowing snow events. The layer optical depth estimated from the lidar data ranged from 0.05 to 1.0 with an average of 0.20. A very large, organized blowing snow “storm” is tracked over 3 days and is estimated to transport a mass of 6.3 × 103 kg m−1 d−1 which is comparable to surface‐based measurements of mass transport during blowing snow events. Results from the application of the retrieval technique to ICESat data are also presented with a demonstration of the large multiple scattering‐induced elevation error that blowing snow layers can cause.

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Cryospheric Science Program