Quantification of Impurities in Prairie Snowpacks and Evaluation and Assessment of Measuring Snow Parameters from MODIS Images
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Extensive research on soot in snow and snow grain size has been carried out in the Polar Regions. However, North American prairie snowpacks lack observations of soot in snow on snow albedo which adds uncertainty to the overall global effect that black carbon on snow has on climate. Measurements in freshly fallen prairie snowpacks in Northwestern Iowa and Central Texas were collected from February 25 to March 3, 2007 and April 6, 2007, respectively. Multi-day monitoring locations and a frozen lake were study sites at which snow samples were collected to measure soot in snow concentrations. Ancillary measurements were collected at a subset of the sample sites that included: temperature, density, depth, and grain size. At some locations snow reflectance and snow radiance was collected with an Analytical Spectral Device visible/near infra-red spectroradiometer (350 ? 1500 nm). Snow impurity, consisting of light-absorbing particulate matter, was measured by filtering meltwater through a nucleopore 0.4 micrometer filter. Filters were examined using a photometer to measure mass impurity concentration. Soot observations indicate prairie snowpack concentrations ranging from 1 ng C gm^-1 to 115 ng C gm^-1 with an average of 34.9 ng C gm^-1. These measurements are within range of previously published values and can lower snow albedo. As expected, spectral albedo was found to decrease with increasing impurities. Additionally, as grain size increased impurity concentration increased. Differences in soot concentration were observed between the two Iowa snowfall events. The Texas event had higher soot concentrations than both Iowa snowfalls. Validation of an ADEOS-II snow product algorithm that compares simulated radiances to measured sensor radiances for retrieval of snow grain size and mass fraction of soot in snow was attempted using satellite images acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). The algorithm was unable to uniquely identify a particular snow grain size and soot concentration that would lead to a converging radiance solution in the two spectral bands measured and compared by the algorithm. The in situ data at the validation site fell within published ranges for freshly fallen snow for both snow grain size and soot concentration; however; the closest algorithm retrievals were considerably higher than in situ measurements for both grain size and impurity concentrations.
Morris, Jennifer Nicole (2011). Quantification of Impurities in Prairie Snowpacks and Evaluation and Assessment of Measuring Snow Parameters from MODIS Images. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from