An analysis of snow cover changes in the Himalayan region using MODIS snow products and in-situ temperature data
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Amidst growing concerns over the melting of the Himalayas’ snow and glaciers, we strive to answer some of the questions related to snow cover changes in the Himalayan region covering Nepal and its vicinity using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) snow cover products from 2000 to 2008 as well as in-situ temperature data from two high altitude stations and net radiation and wind speed data from one station. The analysis consists of trend analysis based on the Spearman’s rank correlation on monthly, seasonal and annual snow cover changes over five different elevation zones above 3,000 m. There are decreasing trends in January and in winter for three of the five elevation zones (all below 6,000 m), increasing trends in March for two elevation zones above 5,000 m and increasing trends in autumn for four of the five elevation zones (all above 4,000 m). Some of these observed trends, if continue, may result in changes in the spring and autumn season river flows in the region. Dominantly negative correlations are observed between the monthly snow cover and the in-situ temperature, net radiation and wind speed from the Pyramid station at 5,035 m (near Mount Everest). Similar correlations are also observed between the snow cover and the in-situ temperature from the Langtang station at 3,920 m elevation. These correlations explain some of the observed trends and substantiate the reliability of the MODIS snow cover products.
KeywordsNormalize Difference Vegetation Index Snow Cover Snow Depth Elevation Zone Snow Covered Area
Part of this research was funded through the DGIS and UNESCO-IHE Programmatic Cooperation Fund. We acknowledge the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Ministry of Science, Nepal, for sharing the temperature data from the Langtang station. We also acknowledge Ev-K2-CNR, Bergamo, Italy for sharing the Pyramid station data, which were collected within the SHARE Project thanks to contributions from the Italian National Research Council and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We are very grateful to Ms Roberta Toffolon from the Ev-K2-CNR Secretariat for her generous help in connection to providing these data.
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