Articles | Volume 16, issue 7
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 2365–2377, 2012
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 2365–2377, 2012

Research article 30 Jul 2012

Research article | 30 Jul 2012

MODIS snow cover mapping accuracy in a small mountain catchment – comparison between open and forest sites

J. Parajka1, L. Holko2, Z. Kostka2, and G. Blöschl1 J. Parajka et al.
  • 1Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria
  • 2Institute of Hydrology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Liptovský Mikuláš, Slovakia

Abstract. Numerous global and regional validation studies have examined MODIS snow mapping accuracy by using measurements at climate stations, which are mainly at open sites. MODIS accuracy in alpine and forested regions is, however, still not well understood. The main objective of this study is to evaluate MODIS (MOD10A1 and MYD10A1) snow cover products in a small experimental catchment by using extensive snow course measurements at open and forest sites. The MODIS accuracy is tested in the Jalovecky creek catchment (northern Slovakia) in the period 2000–2011. The results show that the combined Terra and Aqua images enable snow mapping at an overall accuracy of 91.5%. The accuracies at forested, open and mixed land uses at the Červenec sites are 92.7%, 98.3% and 81.8%, respectively. The use of a 2-day temporal filter enables a significant reduction in the number of days with cloud coverage and an increase in overall snow mapping accuracy. In total, the 2-day temporal filter decreases the number of cloudy days from 61% to 26% and increases the snow mapping accuracy to 94%. The results indicate three possible factors leading to misclassification of snow as land: patchy snow cover, limited MODIS geolocation accuracy and mapping algorithm errors. Out of a total of 27 misclassification cases, patchy snow cover, geolocation issues and mapping errors occur in 12, 12 and 3 cases, respectively.