Date of this Version
Remote Sensing of Environment 118 (2012) 50–59; doi:10.1016/j.rse.2011.10.029
Binary snow maps and fractional snow cover data are provided routinely from MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer). This paper investigates how the wide observation angles of MODIS influence the current snow mapping algorithm in forested areas. Theoretical modeling results indicate that large view zenith angles (VZA) can lead to underestimation of fractional snow cover (FSC) by reducing the amount of the ground surface that is viewable through forest canopies, and by increasing uncertainties during the gridding of MODIS data. At the end of the MODIS scan line, the total modeled error can be as much as 50% for FSC. Empirical analysis of MODIS/Terra snow products in four forest sites shows high fluctuation in FSC estimates on consecutive days. In addition, the normalized difference snow index (NDSI) values, which are the primary input to the MODIS snow mapping algorithms, decrease as VZA increases at the site level. At the pixel level, NDSI values have higher variances, and are correlated with the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) in snow covered forests. These findings are consistent with our modeled results, and imply that consideration of view angle effects could improve MODIS snow monitoring in forested areas.