Investigatigating inter-/intra-annual variability of surface hydrology at northern high latitude from spaceborne measurements

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Kevin (Kyung-Kuk) Kang1,2 and Claude R Duguay1,2, (1)University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada, (2)H2O Geomatics, Waterloo, ON, Canada
Lakes encompass a large part of the surface cover in the northern boreal and tundra areas of northern Canada and are therefore a significant component of the terrestrial hydrological system. To understand the hydrologic cycle over subarctic and arctic landscapes, estimating surface parameters such as surface net radiation, soil moisture, and surface albedo is important. Although ground-based field measurements provide a good temporal resolution, these data provide a limited spatial representation and are often restricted to the summer period (from June to August), and few surface-based stations are located in high-latitude regions. In this respect, spaceborne remote sensing provides the means to monitor surface hydrology and to estimate components of the surface energy balance with reasonable spatial and temporal resolutions required for hydrological investigations, as well as for providing more spatially representative lake-relevant information than available from in situ measurements.

The primary objective of this study is to quantify the sources of temporal and spatial variability in surface albedo over subarctic wetland from satellite derived albedo measurements in the Hudson Bay Lowlands near Churchill, Manitoba. The spatial variability in albedo within each land-cover type is investigated through optical satellite imagery from Landsat-5 Thematic Mapper, Landsat-7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus, and Landsat-8 Operational Land Imager obtained in different seasons from spring into fall (April and October) over a 30-year period (1984-2013). These data allowed for an examination of the spatial variability of surface albedo under relatively dry and wet summer conditions (i.e. 1984, 1998 versus 1991, 2005). A detailed analysis of Landsat-derived surface albedo (ranging from 0.09 to 0.15) conducted in the Churchill region for August is inversely related to surface water fraction calculated from Landsat images. Preliminary analysis of surface albedo observed between July and August are 0.10 to 0.15, and vary due to differences in meteorological parameters such as rainfall, surface moisture and surface air temperature. Overall, spaceborne optical data are an invaluable source for investigating changes and variability in surface albedo in relation to surface hydrology over subarctic regions.