Exploiting the ANN potential in estimating Snow Depth and Snow Water Equivalent from the airborne SnowSAR data at X and Ku bands

Emanuele Santi*, Marco Brogioni, Marion Leduc-Leballeur, Giovanni Macelloni, Francesco Montomoli, Paolo Pampaloni, Juha Lemmetyinen, Juval Cohen, Helmut Rott, Thomas Nagler, Chris Derksen, Josh King, Nick Rutter, Richard Essery, Cecile Menard, Mel Sandells, Michael Kern

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Within the framework of European Space Agency (ESA) activities, several campaigns were carried out in the last decade with the purpose of exploiting the capabilities of multifrequency synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data to retrieve snow information. This article presents the results obtained from the ESA SnowSAR airborne campaigns, carried out between 2011 and 2013 on boreal forest, tundra and alpine environments, selected as representative of different snow regimes. The aim of this study was to assess the capability of X- and Ku-bands SAR in retrieving the snow parameters, namely snow depth (SD) and snow water equivalent (SWE). The retrieval was based on machine learning (ML) techniques and, in particular, of artificial neural networks (ANNs). ANNs have been selected among other ML approaches since they are capable to offer a good compromise between retrieval accuracy and computational cost. Two approaches were evaluated, the first based on the experimental data (data driven) and the second based on data simulated by the dense medium radiative transfer (DMRT). The data driven algorithm was trained on half of the SnowSAR dataset and validated on the remaining half. The validation resulted in a correlation coefficient R ≃ 0.77 between estimated and target SD, a root-mean-square error (RMSE) ≃ 13 cm, and bias = 0.03 cm. ANN algorithms specific for each test site were also implemented, obtaining more accurate results, and the robustness of the data driven approach was evaluated over time and space. The algorithm trained with DMRT simulations and tested on the experimental dataset was able to estimate the target parameter (SWE in this case) with R = 0.74, RMSE = 34.8 mm, and bias = 1.8 mm. The model driven approach had the twofold advantage of reducing the amount of in situ data required for training the algorithm and of extending the algorithm exportability to other test sites.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Early online date21 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jun 2021

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