Observations of a Coniferous Forest at 9.6 and 17.2 GHz: Implications for SWE Retrievals
UWScat, a ground-based Ku- and X-band scatterometer, was used to compare forested and non-forested landscapes in a terrestrial snow accumulation environment as part of the NASA SnowEx17 field campaign. Field observations from Trail Valley Creek, Northwest Territories; Tobermory, Ontario; and the Canadian Snow and Ice Experiment (CASIX) campaign in Churchill, Manitoba, were also included. Limited sensitivity to snow was observed at 9.6 GHz, while the forest canopy attenuated the signal from
... anopy snow at 17.2 GHz. Forested landscapes were distinguishable using the volume scattering component of the Freeman–Durden three-component decomposition model by applying a threshold in which values ≥50% indicated forested landscape. It is suggested that the volume scattering component of the decomposition can be used in current snow water equivalent (SWE) retrieval algorithms in place of the forest cover fraction (FF), which is an optical surrogate for microwave scattering and relies on ancillary data. The performance of the volume scattering component of the decomposition was similar to that of FF when used in a retrieval scheme. The primary benefit of this method is that it provides a current, real-time estimate of the forest state, it automatically accounts for the incidence angle and canopy structure, and it provides coincident information on the forest canopy without the use of ancillary data or modeling, which is especially important in remote regions. Additionally, it enables the estimation of forest canopy transmissivity without ancillary data. This study also demonstrates the use of these frequencies in a forest canopy application, and the use of the Freeman–Durden three-component decomposition on scatterometer observations in a terrestrial snow accumulation environment.