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Improved estimation of snow mass by using spatially and temporally varying snow density

Illustration of the original GlobSnow v3.0 SWE product (a), improved product (b) and differences of the two products, improved subtracted from the original (c) for 6 February 2011.

A new study found that the state-of-the-art GlobSnow v3.0 snow mass estimates can be further improved by using dynamic snow densities. Information about snow water equivalent (SWE) is needed in many applications, including forecasting freshwater availability and flooding. Historical time series of SWE can also be used in climate model evaluation.

A new study evaluated the impact of dynamic snow densities on the GlobSnow SWE product. So far, the product, which spans from 1979 to 2018, has utilized constant snow density information. Dynamic snow densities were constructed using a large number of snow density measurements from Finland, Russia, Canada, and USA.

The proposed snow density fields were shown to improve the GlobSnow v3.0 SWE product. Biggest improvements were seen in early winter, when the snowpack is fresh and light, and SWE values are often over estimated. The development of the GlobSnow methodology is continuing as a part of the European Space Agency Climate Change Initiative – Snow (Snow CCI) project:

Further information

Pinja Venäläinen, Finnish Meteorological Institute,

Venäläinen, P., Luojus, K., Lemmetyinen, J., Pulliainen, J., Moisander, M., and Takala, M.: Impact of dynamic snow density on GlobSnow snow water equivalent retrieval accuracy, The Cryosphere, 15, 2969–2981,, 2021.

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