Monitoring Snow Cover and Snowmelt Dynamics and Assessing their Influences on Inland Water Resources

Snow is one of the most vital cryospheric components owing to its wide coverage as well as its unique physical characteristics. It not only affects the balance of numerous natural systems but also influences various socio-economic activities of human beings. Notably, the importance of snowmelt water to global water resources is outstanding, as millions of populations rely on snowmelt water for daily consumption and agricultural use. Nevertheless, due to the unprecedented temperature rise resulting from the deterioration of climate change, global snow cover extent (SCE) has been shrinking significantly, which endangers the sustainability and availability of inland water resources. Therefore, in order to understand cryo-hydrosphere interactions under a warming climate, (1) monitoring SCE dynamics and snowmelt conditions, (2) tracking the dynamics of snowmelt-influenced waterbodies, and (3) assessing the causal effect of snowmelt conditions on inland water resources are indispensable. However, for each point, there exist many research questions that need to be answered. Consequently, in this thesis, five objectives are proposed accordingly. Objective 1: Reviewing the characteristics of SAR and its interactions with snow, and exploring the trends, difficulties, and opportunities of existing SAR-based SCE mapping studies; Objective 2: Proposing a novel total and wet SCE mapping strategy based on freely accessible SAR imagery with all land cover classes applicability and global transferability; Objective 3: Enhancing total SCE mapping accuracy by fusing SAR- and multi-spectral sensor-based information, and providing total SCE mapping reliability map information; Objective 4: Proposing a cloud-free and illumination-independent inland waterbody dynamics tracking strategy using freely accessible datasets and services; Objective 5: Assessing the influence of snowmelt conditions on inland water resources.


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