Evaluating North American Mountain Snowpack Extent in Regional Climate Models Using MODIS Satellite Imagery Public Deposited

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  • May 15, 2019
  • Lezine, Ekaterina
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Curriculum in Environment and Ecology, Environmental Science
  • Mountain snowpack is a vital source of water for ecosystems, has a significant influence on the occurrence of wildfires, and provides water resources for billions of people globally. Despite the implications of climate change on mountain snowpack, we have few reliable ways of estimating global snowpack extent. In response to the lack of accurate methods of estimating mountain snowpack, Wrzesien et al. (2018) presented an estimate of snowpack extent for eleven North American mountain ranges using regional climate model (RCM) simulations. This research evaluates these model estimates using remote sensing imagery from the NASA Terra MODIS satellite instrument, providing further analysis of the usefulness of RCMs in estimating mountain snowpack. In comparison to MODIS, the RCM simulations generally perform well for most of the year for most ranges, though there is a trend towards spring overestimation of snow cover extent. Spatially, there is no clear trend in the performance of the RCM simulations. Further analysis using other remote sensing datasets could provide more insight into the ability of RCMs to accurately simulate mountain snowpack extent.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Pavelsky, Tamlin
  • Bachelor of Science
Academic concentration
  • Environmental Science
Honors level
  • Honors
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2019
  • English

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