A novel approach for the snow water equivalent retrieval using X-band polarimetric synthetic aperture radar data

Akshay Patil, Gulab Singh, Christoph Rudiger, Shradha Mohanty, Sanjeev Kumar, Snehmani

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8 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, an algorithm for snow depth (SD) and snow water equivalent (SWE) retrieval is proposed based on a polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (SAR) decomposition model and field measured snow data. The field campaigns were conducted at the Dhundi observatory (in the Indian Himalaya) in January 2016 and 2018. The field-measured data are used here to build a linear regression between wetness (w) and the imaginary part of the snow permittivity (boldsymbol {epsilon }{prime prime }), and the validation of retrieved SD and SWE. The snow density (boldsymbol {rho }-{s}) and w are calculated with a generalized volume parameter derived using a theoretical model and SAR data (coherency matrix). These snow parameters and the field-based regression relating w and boldsymbol {epsilon }{prime prime } are eventually used for the SD and SWE retrieval. Three TerraSAR-X scenes of the quad-polarization X-band data acquired in January 2016 are used to study the effect of the snow conditions on the accuracy of the proposed algorithm. The mean absolute error (MAE), root-mean-square error (RMSE), and index of agreement (IOA) for SD are 4.84 cm, 5.12 cm, and 0.71, respectively. On the other hand, for SWE, it is 1.42 cm, 1.53 cm, and 0.71, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3753-3763
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Snow depth (SD)
  • snow water equivalent (SWE)
  • synthetic aperture radar (SAR)
  • TerraSAR-X
  • X-band

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