Evaluating Multispectral Snowpack Reflectivity with Changing Snow Correlation Lengths

Do Hyuk Kang, Ana P. Barros, Edward J. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the sensitivity of multispectral reflectivity to changing snow correlation lengths. Mätzler's ice-lamellae radiative transfer model was implemented and tested to evaluate the reflectivity of snow correlation lengths at multiple frequencies from the ultraviolet (UV) to the microwave bands. The model reveals that, in the UV to infrared (IR) frequency range, the reflectivity and correlation length are inversely related, whereas reflectivity increases with snow correlation length in the microwave frequency range. The model further shows that the reflectivity behavior can be mainly attributed to scattering rather than absorption for shallow snowpacks. The largest scattering coefficients and reflectivity occur at very small correlation lengths (∼10 -5 m) for frequencies higher than the IR band. In the microwave range, the largest scattering coefficients are found at millimeter wavelengths. For validation purposes, the ice-lamella model is coupled with a multilayer snow physics model to characterize the reflectivity response of realistic snow hydrological processes. The evolution of the coupled model simulated reflectivities in both the visible and the microwave bands is consistent with satellite-based reflectivity observations in the same frequencies. The model results are also compared with colocated in situ snow correlation length measurements (Cold Land Processes Field Experiment 2002-2003). The analysis and evaluation of model results indicate that the coupled multifrequency radiative transfer and snow hydrology modeling system can be used as a forward operator in a data-assimilation framework to predict the status of snow physical properties, including snow correlation length.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7572013
Pages (from-to)7378-7384
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Multiple frequencies
  • reflectivity
  • scattering coefficient
  • snow correlation length

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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