An Operational Satellite Snowfall Rate Product at NOAA

Snow falling around some pine trees

A group of NOAA scientists, including several from ESSIC/CISESS, are producing a satellite snowfall rate product operationally at near real-time using measurements from passive microwave radiometers aboard ten satellites. The ESSIC/CISESS scientists on this project are Visiting Research Scientist Huan Meng, Faculty Specialist Jun Dong, Associate Research Scientist Cezar Kongoli, Assistant Research Scientist Yongzhen Fan, and Visiting Associate Research Scientist Ralph Ferraro. The group also includes NOAA scientists Banghua Yan and Limin Zhao.


This product is based on an algorithm that consists of a statistical snowfall detection model and a 1DVAR-based snowfall rate estimation component. A recent validation study was conducted against a radar and gauge combined precipitation dataset, which showed that the product agrees well with the validation ‘truth’.


Some case studies have also demonstrated the algorithm’s ability to capture snowfall pattern and intensity. Currently, this product is being applied in weather forecasting and hydrology.


Meng is a physical scientist with NOAA/NESDIS Satellite Climate Studies Branch. Her current research topics include the use of satellite passive microwave measurements for both the retrieval of snowfall rates, and the development of Climate Data Record (CDR).


Kongoli is also an affiliate scientist at NOAA/NESDIS and an adjunct professorial lecturer at American University. His research focuses on satellite hydrometeorology, cold regions hydrology and data assimilation. 


Fan joined CISESS/ESSIC in 2020 to work on the snowfall product retrieval from multiple passive microwave sensors by improving the radiative transfer simulation and using machine learning techniques. He is also an expert on machine learning techniques and developed the multi-sensor data analysis platform Ocean Color – Simultaneous Marine and Aerosol Retrieval Tool (OC-SMART) based on multilayer neural networks driven by extensive radiative transfer simulations of the coupled Earth atmosphere and ocean system.


Ferraro is the Chief of the NOAA/NESDIS Satellite Climate Studies Branch. His research focuses on the use of environmental satellite remote sensing for both weather and climate studies with an emphasis on precipitation and other hydrological cycle products. 


To learn more about this project, click here: “An Operational Satellite Snowfall Rate Product at NOAA”.