University of Colorado at Boulder

Colloquia Event

Friday November 18, 2016. 03:30 pm. GUGG 205

Remote sensing of global terrestrial seasonal snow water equivalent: the role of microwave-observing systems

Richard Kelly

University of Waterloo, Department of Geography and Environmental Management

Abstract: A decline in the northern hemisphere terrestrial seasonal snow extent has been observed from satellite observations, especially in the springtime at high latitude. Snow mass or snow water equivalent (SWE) is an important variable in the annual water budget of river catchments in cold regions, especially in places that rely on seasonal snowmelt runoff for water supply.  Yet uncertainty persists in our ability to quantify snow mass from local to global scales using satellite observing instruments. This presentation considers conceptual advances in theory that underpin applications to map SWE from satellite passive microwave observations and illustrates how progress is now constrained by instrument characteristics. It then discusses how recent field experiments to observe seasonal snow accumulation from radar have advanced our knowledge even further to the point where radar systems now offer a viable solution to local mapping of SWE. Two possibilities to map SWE have emerged from this recent radar research, one that uses Ku-band backscatter signatures, and the other using radar interferometry. We focus on the first of these two approaches, but recognize the opportunities for the second approach. The challenge will be to combine different observation methods (including those from airborne systems), to optimize the long-term satellite record of SWE, thereby providing significant insight into SWE climatology.  

Bio: Richard Kelly received his PhD from the University of Bristol before becoming a Lecturer in Physical Geography at Birkbeck College, University of London, in 1994. In 2000 he was an Associate Research Scientist at NASA/GSFC & UMBC before joining the University of Waterloo, Canada in 2006, where he has been ever since. Along the way, he has been on the editorial board of IEEE JSTARS (past) and SPIE Journal of Applied Remote Sensing (current) and was the President of the Eastern Snow Conference. Recently he was the Associate Dean of Research in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo and he will be the Chair of the Department of Geography and Environmental Management from January 2017. His Research interests are concerned with the use of active and passive microwave remote sensing of snow and ice. He was the PI for the NASA AMSR-E snow product and currently leads the JAXA AMSR2 snow product team. He has conducted field research in Canada, USA, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, Pakistan and the UK. Currently is part of a team looking at rainwater harvesting in S. India in an era of climate change.