Snowmelt monitored in the Baltic Sea watershed region in near real time

Apr 05, 2007
Snowmelt monitored in the Baltic Sea watershed region in near real time
Satellites are monitoring and mapping the snow melting process to help local authorities manage water supplies and predict and prepare for floods. Credit: ESA

As spring melt of winter snow is underway in the Baltic Sea watershed region, satellites are monitoring and mapping the snow melting process to help local authorities manage water supplies and predict and prepare for floods. Remote sensing is the only technique capable of providing a comprehensive view over such a large area.

Within the context of ESA’s Polar View programme, funded through the Earthwatch GMES Service Element (GSE), the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) is using images from Earth observation satellites to provide snow maps of Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and parts of Western Russia and Belarus from the beginning of March until the end of May.

Satellite images are downlinked to the Arctic Research Centre of the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) and then passed on to SYKE, which takes the image data and processes it further to create the snow maps.

SYKE's snow-mapping method produces information on fractional snow coverage for all non-mountainous areas, even heavily forested spots, with fine resolution. The maps are published on the SYKE website as soon as they are compiled, usually within four to five hours of satellite overpass.

Because snow is vital to the water cycle, predicting when and how snow will melt and be released into local ecosystems is very useful. For instance several Finnish regional environment centres and the Estonian Meteorological Institute are using the snow maps on a daily basis for hydrological modelling, flood forecasting and water resources management.

The snow maps are also used by the commercial sector for activities such as managing hydroelectric power production and estimating how much time is left in the season for winter sports.

In 2008, the mapping project will expand to include parts of Poland.

Source: ESA

Explore further: Africa, from a CATS point of view

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A sustainable city is one that you love

Jan 19, 2015

Imagine walking through downtown Phoenix on a warm fall afternoon. Palm trees frame the clear blue sky as you pass brightly painted murals on the sides of buildings. The light rail passes with a friendly ...

Underwater robot sheds new light on Antarctic sea ice

Nov 24, 2014

The first detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice have been developed using an underwater robot. Scientists from the UK, USA and Australia say the new technology provides accurate ice thickness ...

Recommended for you

Africa, from a CATS point of view

1 hour ago

From Saharan dust storms to icy clouds to smoke on the opposite side of the continent, the first image from NASA's newest cloud- and aerosol-measuring instrument provides a profile of the atmosphere above ...

Climate change may flatten famed surfing waves

Feb 25, 2015

On a summer day in 1885, three Hawaiian princes surfed at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River on crudely constructed boards made from coastal redwoods, bringing the sport to the North American mainland.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.