Articles | Volume 13, issue 8
14 Aug 2009
 | 14 Aug 2009

Interrelationships between MODIS/Terra remotely sensed snow cover and the hydrometeorology of the Quesnel River Basin, British Columbia, Canada

J. Tong, S. J. Déry, and P. L. Jackson

Abstract. A spatial filter (SF) method is adopted to reduce the cloud coverage from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) 8-day snow products (MOD10A2) between 2000–2007 in the Quesnel River Basin (QRB) of British Columbia, Canada. A threshold of k = 2 cm of snow depth measurements at four in-situ observation stations in the QRB are used to evaluate the accuracy of MODIS snow products MOD10A1, MOD10A2, and SF. Using the MOD10A2 and the SF, the relationships between snow ablation, snow cover extent (SCE), snow cover fraction (SCF), streamflow and climate variability are assessed. Based on our results we are able to draw several interesting conclusions. Firstly, the SF method reduces the average cloud coverage in the QRB from 15% for MOD10A2 to 9%. Secondly, the SF increases the overall accuracy (OA) based on the threshold k = 2 cm by about 2% compared to MOD10A2 and by about 10% compared to MOD10A1 at higher elevations. The OA for the four in-situ stations decreases with elevation with 93.1%, 87.9%, 84.0%, and 76.5% at 777 m, 1265 m, 1460 m, and 1670 m, respectively. Thirdly, an aggregated 1°C rise in average air temperature during spring leads to a 10-day advance in reaching 50% SCF (SCF50%) in the QRB. The correlation coefficient between normalized SCE of the SF and normalized streamflow is −0.84 (p<0.001) for snow ablation seasons. There is a 32-day time lag for snow ablation to impact the streamflow the strongest at the basin outlet. The linear correlation coefficient between SCF50% and 50% normalized accumulated runoff (R50%) attains 0.82 (p<0.01). This clearly demonstrates the strong links that exist between the SCF depletion and the hydrology of this sub-boreal, mountainous watershed.