Retrieval of Snow Properties from the Sentinel-3 Ocean and Land Colour Instrument

Alexander Kokhanovsky, Maxim Lamare, Olaf Danne, Carsten Brockmann, Marie Dumont, Ghislain Picard, Laurent Arnaud, Vincent Favier, Bruno Jourdain, Emmanuel Le Meur, Biagio Di Mauro, Teruo Aoki, Masashi Niwano, Vladimir Rozanov, Serge Korkin, Sepp Kipfstuhl, Johannes Freitag, Maria Hoerhold, Alexander Zuhr, Diana VladimirovaAnne-Katrine Faber, Hans Christian Steen-Larsen, Sonja Wahl, Jonas K. Andersen, Baptiste Vandecrux, Dirk van As, Kenneth D. Mankoff, Michael Kern, Eleonora Zege, Jason E. Box

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


The Sentinel Application Platform (SNAP) architecture facilitates Earth Observation data processing. In this work, we present results from a new Snow Processor for SNAP. We also describe physical principles behind the developed snow property retrieval technique based on the analysis of Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) onboard Sentinel-3A/B measurements over clean and polluted snow fields. Using OLCI spectral reflectance measurements in the range 400'1020 nm, we derived important snow properties such as spectral and broadband albedo, snow specific surface area, snow extent and grain size on a spatial grid of 300 m. The algorithm also incorporated cloud screening and atmospheric correction procedures over snow surfaces. We present validation results using ground measurements from Antarctica, the Greenland ice sheet and the French Alps. We find the spectral albedo retrieved with accuracy of better than 3% on average, making our retrievals sufficient for a variety of applications. Broadband albedo is retrieved with the average accuracy of about 5% over snow. Therefore, the uncertainties of satellite retrievals are close to experimental errors of ground measurements. The retrieved surface grain size shows good agreement with ground observations. Snow specific surface area observations are also consistent with our OLCI retrievals. We present snow albedo and grain size mapping over the inland ice sheet of Greenland for areas including dry snow, melted/melting snow and impurity rich bare ice. The algorithm can be applied to OLCI Sentinel-3 measurements providing an opportunity for creation of long-term snow property records essential for climate monitoring and data assimilation studies'especially in the Arctic region, where we face rapid environmental changes including reduction of snow/ice extent and, therefore, planetary albedo.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2280
Number of pages43
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Albedo
  • OLCI
  • Optical remote sensing
  • Sentinel 3
  • Snow characteristics
  • Snow grain size
  • Specific surface area

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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