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Earth System Science Data The Data Publishing Journal
doi:10.5194/essd-2017-25
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Review article
13 Apr 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD).
Overview of NASA's MODIS and VIIRS Snow-Cover Earth System Data Records
George A. Riggs1, Dorothy K. Hall2,3, and Miguel O. Román2 1SSAI, Inc., 10210 Greenbelt Road, Suite 600, Lanham, MD 20706
2Terrestrial Information Laboratory, Code 619, NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, MD 20771
3Michigan State University, Department of Geography, East Lansing, MI 48824
Abstract. Knowledge of the distribution, extent, duration and timing of snowmelt is critical for characterizing the Earth’s climate system and its changes. As a result, snow cover is one of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) essential climate variables (ECVs). Consistent, long term datasets of snow cover are needed to study interannual variability and snow climatology. The NASA snow-cover datasets generated from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra and Aqua spacecraft and the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi-NPP) Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) are NASA Earth System Data Records (ESDR). The objective of the snow-cover detection algorithms is to optimize the accuracy of mapping snow-cover extent (SCE) and to minimize snow-cover detection errors of omission and commission using automated, globally-applied algorithms to produce SCE data products. Advancements in snow-cover mapping have been made with each of the four major reprocessings of the MODIS data record which extends from 2000 to the present. MODIS Collection 6 (C6) and VIIRS Collection 1 (C1) represent the state-of-the-art global snow-cover mapping algorithms and products for NASA Earth science. There were many revisions made in the C6 algorithms which improved snow-cover detection accuracy and information content of the data products. These improvements have also been incorporated into the NASA VIIRS snow cover algorithms for C1. Both information content and usability were improved by including the Normalized Snow Difference Index (NDSI) and a quality assurance (QA) data array of algorithm processing flags in the data product, along with the SCE map. The increased data content allows flexibility in using the datasets for specific regions and end-user applications. Though there are important differences between the MODIS and VIIRS instruments (e.g., the VIIRS 375 m native resolution compared to MODIS 500 m), the snow-detection algorithms and data products are designed to be as similar as possible so that the 16+ year MODIS ESDR of global SCE can be extended into the future with the S-NPP VIIRS snow products and with products from future Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) platforms. These NASA datasets are archived and accessible through the NASA Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado.

DOIs of the referenced datasets:
MODIS Collection 5
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5067/ACYTYZB9BEOS
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5067/R90VAMI75N22
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5067/63NQASRDPDB0
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5067/ZFAEMQGSR4XD
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5067/EI5HGLM2NNHN
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5067/EW53FPU9NAS6

MODIS Collection 6
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5067/MODIS/MOD10_L2.006
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5067/MODIS/MYD10_L2.006
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5067/MODIS/MOD10A1.006
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5067/MODIS/MYD10A1.006
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5067/MODIS/MOD10C1.006
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5067/MODIS/MYD10C1.006

VIIRS Collection 1
doi:10.5067/VIIRS/VNP10.001


Citation: Riggs, G. A., Hall, D. K., and Román, M. O.: Overview of NASA's MODIS and VIIRS Snow-Cover Earth System Data Records, Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss., doi:10.5194/essd-2017-25, in review, 2017.
George A. Riggs et al.
George A. Riggs et al.
George A. Riggs et al.

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Short summary
The current collections of the NASA snow cover data products generated from the MODIS and VIIRS satellite instruments are described. Revisions in the MODIS snow cover algorithm increased accuracy and the data content of products is increased from previous collection. The VIIRS algorithm and data product are very similar to those of MODIS. The objective of generating similar products is to enable creation of a snow cover extent climate data record.
The current collections of the NASA snow cover data products generated from the MODIS and VIIRS...
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