Electrical & Computer Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in International Journal of Infrared and Millimeter Waves 18:5 (1997), pp. 959–990. Copyright © 1997 Plenum Publishing Corporation. Used by permission.


Knowledge of surficial snow properties such as grain size, surface roughness, and free-water content provides clues to the metamorphic state of snow on the ground, which in turn yields information on weathering processes and climatic activity. Remote sensing techniques using combined concurrent measurements of near-infrared passive reflectance and millimeter-wave radar backscatter show promise in estimating the above snow parameters. Near-infrared reflectance is strongly dependent on snow grain size and free-water content, while millimeter-wave backscatter is primarily dependent on free-water content and, to some extent, on the surface roughness. A neural-network based inversion algorithm has been developed that optimally combines near-infrared and millimeter-wave measurements for accurate estimation of the relevant snow properties. The algorithm uses reflectances at wavelengths of 1160 nm, 1260 nm and 1360 nm, as well as co-polarized and cross-polarized backscatter at a frequency of 95 GHz. The inversion algorithm has been tested using simulated data, and is seen to perform well under noise-free conditions. Under noise-added conditions, a signal-to-noise ratio of 32 dB or greater ensures acceptable errors in snow parameter estimation.