High-resolution snow depth prediction using Random Forest algorithm with topographic parameters: a case study in the Greiner Watershed, Nunavut

Julien Meloche*, Alexandre Langlois, Nick Rutter, Donald McLennan, Alain Royer, Paul Billecocq, Serguei Ponomarenko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Increased surface temperatures (0.7℃ per decade) in the Arctic affects polar ecosystems by reducing the extent and duration of annual snow cover. Monitoring of these important ecosystems needs detailed information on snow cover properties at resolutions (< 100 m) that influence ecological habitats and permafrost thaw. A machine learning method using topographic parameters with the Random Forest (RF) algorithm previously developed in alpine environments was applied over an arctic landscape for the first time. The topographic parameters used in the RF algorithm were Topographic Position Index (TPI) and up-wind slope index (Sx), which were estimated from the freely available Arctic DEM at 2 m resolution. Addition of an ecotype parameter (proxy for vegetation height) showed minimal predictive improvement. Using RF, snow depth distributions were predicted from topographic parameters with a root mean square error = 8 cm (23%) (R^2 = 0.79) at 10 m resolution for an arctic watershed (1 500 km2) in western Nunavut, Canada.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14546
Number of pages10
JournalHydrological Processes
Volume36
Issue number3
Early online date12 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

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