J39.2 Assimilation of Multifrequency, Multipolarization Passive Microwave Brightness Temperature Observations in North America over Snow-Covered Regions Using Support Vector Machines (Invited Presentation)

Wednesday, 10 January 2018: 10:45 AM
Room 18A (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Yuan Xue, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD; and B. A. Forman and R. Reichle

Accurately estimating the mass of water within a snowpack (a.k.a. snow water equivalent, or SWE) across regional or continental scales is a challenge. In order to overcome some of the limitations in traditional SWE retrieval algorithms or radiative transfer-based snow emission models, this study explores the use of a support vector machine (SVM) to merge an advanced land surface model within a radiance emission (i.e., brightness temperature) assimilation framework. The goal of direct radiance assimilation is preferable as it avoids inconsistencies in the use of ancillary data between the assimilation system and the independently-generated geophysical retrieval. The impact of assimilating multiple observations simultaneously at different frequency and polarization combinations is then evaluated via comparisons to state-of-the-art SWE and snow depth products as well as available ground-based measurements across North America for the years 2002 through 2011. It is found that assimilation-derived estimates (relative to estimates without assimilation) tend to better agree with state-of-the-art snow products. In addition, an overall improvement in goodness-of-fit statistics for snow estimates is achieved via assimilation when compared against ground-based snow measurements. In addition, these improvements in snow are shown to translate into improvements in streamflow predictions. Specifically, 11 out of the 13 major snow-dominated basins investigated have improved cumulative runoff estimates versus ground-based discharge measurements compared to the no-assimilation scenario. It is proven that a SVM can serve as an efficient and effective observation operator for a snow mass analysis within a radiance assimilation system.
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