Snow Cover Evolution in the Gran Paradiso National Park, Italian Alps, Using the Earth Observation Data Cube
Mountainous regions are particularly vulnerable to climate change, and the impacts are already extensive and observable, the implications of which go far beyond mountain boundaries and the environmental sectors. Monitoring and understanding climate and environmental changes in mountain regions is, therefore, needed. One of the key variables to study is snow cover, since it represents an essential driver of many ecological, hydrological and socioeconomic processes in mountains. As remotely
... data can contribute to filling the gap of sparse in-situ stations in high-altitude environments, a methodology for snow cover detection through time series analyses using Landsat satellite observations stored in an Open Data Cube is described in this paper, and applied to a case study on the Gran Paradiso National Park, in the western Italian Alps. In particular, this study presents a proof of concept of the preliminary version of the snow observation from space algorithm applied to Landsat data stored in the Swiss Data Cube. Implemented in an Earth Observation Data Cube environment, the algorithm can process a large amount of remote sensing data ready for analysis and can compile all Landsat series since 1984 into one single multi-sensor dataset. Temporal filtering methodology and multi-sensors analysis allows one to considerably reduce the uncertainty in the estimation of snow cover area using high-resolution sensors. The study highlights that, despite this methodology, the lack of available cloud-free images still represents a big issue for snow cover mapping from satellite data. Though accurate mapping of snow extent below cloud cover with optical sensors still represents a challenge, spatial and temporal filtering techniques and radar imagery for future time series analyses will likely allow one to reduce the current cloud cover issue.