Please wait a minute...
Journal of Arid Land  2017, Vol. 9 Issue (5): 763-777    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0103-6
Orginal Article     
Monitoring recent changes in snow cover in Central Asia using improved MODIS snow-cover products
Jinping LIU1,2, Wanchang ZHANG1,*(), Tie LIU3
1 Key Laboratory of Digital Earth Science, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100094, China
2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039, China
3 State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
Download: HTML     PDF(1496KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)       Supporting Info


Snow cover plays an important role in the fields of climatology and cryospheric science. Remotely-sensed data have been proven to be effective in monitoring snow covers. Improved methods to process the 8-day snow-cover products derived from MODIS Terra/Aqua data can dramatically increase the data quality and reduce noise. A five-step algorithm for removing cloud effects was designed to improve the quality of MODIS snow products, and the overall accuracy of the MODIS snow data without cloud (defined as cloud-free snow-cover dataset) was enhanced by more than 90% based on direct and indirect validation methods. The snow-cover frequency (SCF) and snow-cover rate (SCR) of Central Asia were analyzed from 2000 to 2015 using trend analysis and empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs). Over the plain regions, the SCF displayed a significant north-south declining trend with a rate of 0.03 per degree of latitude, and the SCR showed a similar north-south gradient. In the mountainous areas, the SCF significantly increased with altitude by 0.12 per kilometer. Within the study area, the SCF in 65% of the study area experienced an increasing trend, but only 4.3% of the SCF-increasing pixels passed a significance test. The remaining 35% of the area underwent a decreasing trend of SCF, but only 5.2% of the SCF-decreasing pixels passed a significance test. For the entire Central Asia, the inter-annual variations of snow-cover presented a slight and insignificant increase trend from 2000 to 2015. However, the change trends of snow cover are different between the plain and mountainous regions. That is, the annual mean SCR in the plain areas displayed an increasing trend, but a decreasing trend was found in the mountainous areas.

Key wordssnow-cover      MODIS      cloud-removing      empirical orthogonal function      Central Asia     
Received: 26 September 2016      Published: 22 August 2017
Corresponding Authors: Wanchang ZHANG     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Jinping LIU, Wanchang ZHANG, Tie LIU. Monitoring recent changes in snow cover in Central Asia using improved MODIS snow-cover products. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(5): 763-777.

URL:     OR

[1] Ault T W, Czajkowski K P, Benko T, et al.2006. Validation of the MODIS snow product and cloud mask using student and NWS cooperative station observations in the Lower Great Lakes Region. Remote Sensing of Environment, 105(4): 341-353.
[2] Barry R. 2008. Snow cover. In: Sessa R, Dolman H. Terrestrial Essential Climate Variables for Climate Change Assessment, Mitigation and Adaptation. Rome: FAO, 20-21.
[3] Brown R, Derksen C, Wang L.2010. A multi-data set analysis of variability and change in Arctic spring snow cover extent, 1967-2008. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 115(D16): D16111.
[4] Brutel-Vuilmet C, Ménégoz M, Krinner G.2013. An analysis of present and future seasonal Northern Hemisphere land snow cover simulated by CMIP5 coupled climate models. The Cryosphere, 7(1): 67-80.
[5] Chen F H, Huang W, Jin L Y, et al.2011. Spatiotemporal precipitation variations in the arid Central Asia in the context of global warming. Science China Earth Sciences, 54(12): 1812-1821.
[6] Crawford C J, Manson S M, Bauer M E, et al.2013. Multitemporal snow cover mapping in mountainous terrain for Landsat climate data record development. Remote Sensing of Environment, 135: 224-233.
[7] Dankers R, De Jong S M.2004. Monitoring snow-cover dynamics in Northern Fennoscandia with SPOT VEGETATION images. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 25(15): 2933-2949.
[8] Dietz A J, Kuenzer C, Conrad C.2013. Snow-cover variability in central Asia between 2000 and 2011 derived from improved MODIS daily snow-cover products. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 34(11): 3879-3902.
[9] Foppa N, Wunderle S, Hauser A, et al.2004. Operational sub-pixel snow mapping over the Alps with NOAA AVHRR data. Annals of Glaciology, 38: 245-252.
[10] Foster J L, Hall D K, Kelly R E J, et al.2009. Seasonal snow extent and snow mass in South America using SMMR and SSM/I passive microwave data (1979-2006). Remote Sensing of Environment, 113(2): 291-305.
[11] Gafurov A, Bárdossy A.2009. Cloud removal methodology from MODIS snow cover product. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 13(7): 1361-1373.
[12] Gergel D R, Nijssen B, Abatzoglou J T, et al.2017. Effects of climate change on snowpack and fire potential in the western USA. Climatic Change, 141(2): 287-299.
[13] Guo H, Chen S, Bao A M, et al.2015. Inter-comparison of high-resolution satellite precipitation products over central Asia. Remote Sensing, 7(6): 7181-7211.
[14] Hall D K, Riggs G A, Salomonson V V, et al.2001. Algorithm theoretical basis document (ATBD) for the MODIS snow and sea ice-mapping algorithms. NASA, GSFC.
[15] Hall D K, Riggs G A, Salomonson V V, et al.2002. MODIS snow-cover products. Remote Sensing of Environment, 83(1-2): 181-194.
[16] Hall D K, Riggs G A.2007. Accuracy assessment of the MODIS snow products. Hydrological Processes, 21(12): 1534-1547.
[17] Hu Z Y, Zhang C, Hu Q, et al.2014. Temperature changes in central Asia from 1979 to 2011 based on multiple datasets. Journal of Climate, 27(3): 1143-1167.
[18] Hu Z Y, Li Q X, Chen X, et al.2015. Climate changes in temperature and precipitation extremes in an alpine grassland of Central Asia. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 56(4): 1-13.
[19] Huang X D, Liang T G, Zhang X T, et al.2011. Validation of MODIS snow cover products using Landsat and ground measurements during the 2001-2005 snow seasons over northern Xinjiang, China. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 32(1): 133-152.
[20] Huang X D, Deng J, Wang W, et al.2017. Impact of climate and elevation on snow cover using integrated remote sensing snow products in Tibetan Plateau. Remote Sensing of Environment, 190: 274-288.
[21] Klein I, Gessner U, Kuenzer C.2012. Regional land cover mapping and change detection in Central Asia using MODIS time-series. Applied Geography, 35(1-2): 219-234.
[22] Li Q H, Chen Y N, Shen Y J, et al.2011. Spatial and temporal trends of climate change in Xinjiang, China. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 21(6): 1007-1018.
[23] Liang T G, Huang X D, Wu C X, et al.2008. An application of MODIS data to snow cover monitoring in a pastoral area: a case study in Northern Xinjiang, China. Remote Sensing of Environment, 112(4): 1514-1526.
[24] Lindzen R S, Nigam S.1987. On the role of sea surface temperature gradients in forcing low-level winds and convergence in the tropics. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 44(17): 2418-2436.
[25] Lioubimtseva E, Henebry G M.2009. Climate and environmental change in arid Central Asia: impacts, vulnerability, and adaptations. Journal of Arid Environments, 73(11): 963-977.
[26] Liu Z F, Bowen G J, Welker J M.2010. Atmospheric circulation is reflected in precipitation isotope gradients over the conterminous United States. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 115(D22): D22120.
[27] Maurer E P, Rhoads J D, Dubayah R O, et al.2003. Evaluation of the snow-covered area data product from MODIS. Hydrological Processes, 17(1): 59-71.
[28] North G R, Bell T L, Cahalan R F, et al.1982. Sampling errors in the estimation of empirical orthogonal functions. Monthly Weather Review, 110(7): 699-706.
[29] Parajka J, Bl?schl G.2008. Spatio-temporal combination of MODIS images-potential for snow cover mapping. Water Resources Research, 440(3): W03406.
[30] Parajka J, Pepe M, Rampini A, et al.2010. A regional snow-line method for estimating snow cover from MODIS during cloud cover. Journal of Hydrology, 381(3-4): 203-212.
[31] Ryu J H, Jenkins G S.2005. Lightning-tropospheric ozone connections: EOF analysis of TCO and lightning data. Atmospheric Environment, 39(32): 5799-5805.
[32] Singh C V.2004. Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) analysis of monsoon rainfall and satellite-observed outgoing long-wave radiation for Indian monsoon: a comparative study. Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, 85(4): 227-234.
[33] Szczypta C, Gascoin S, Houet T, et al.2015. Impact of climate and land cover changes on snow cover in a small Pyrenean catchment. Journal of Hydrology, 521: 84-99.
[34] Tang Z G, Wang J, Li H Y, et al.2013. Spatiotemporal changes of snow cover over the Tibetan plateau based on cloud-removed moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer fractional snow cover product from 2001 to 2011. Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, 7(1): 073582.
[35] Tekeli A E, Akyürek Z, ?orman A A, et al.2005. Using MODIS snow cover maps in modeling snowmelt runoff process in the eastern part of Turkey. Remote Sensing of Environment, 97(2): 216-230.
[36] Wang L B, Sharp M, Brown R, et al.2005. Evaluation of spring snow covered area depletion in the Canadian Arctic from NOAA snow charts. Remote Sensing of Environment, 95(4): 453-463.
[37] Wang X W, Xie H J, Liang T G.2008. Evaluation of MODIS snow cover and cloud mask and its application in Northern Xinjiang, China. Remote Sensing of Environment, 112(4): 1497-1513.
[38] Wang X W, Xie H J.2009. New methods for studying the spatiotemporal variation of snow cover based on combination products of MODIS Terra and Aqua. Journal of Hydrology, 371(1-4): 192-200.
[39] Xu C C, Chen Y N, Hamid Y, et al.2009. Long-term change of seasonal snow cover and its effects on river runoff in the Tarim River basin, northwestern China. Hydrological Processes, 23(14): 2045-2055.
[40] Yang D Q, Zhao Y Y, Armstrong R, et al.2007. Streamflow response to seasonal snow cover mass changes over large Siberian watersheds. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 112(F2): F02S22.
[41] Yatagai A, Kamiguchi K, Arakawa O, et al.2012. APHRODITE: constructing a long-term daily gridded precipitation dataset for Asia based on a dense network of rain gauges. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 93(9): 1401-1415.
[42] Yin G, Hu Z Y, Chen X, et al.2016. Vegetation dynamics and its response to climate change in Central Asia. Journal of Arid Land, 8(3): 375-388.
[43] Zhou X B, Xie H J, Hendrickx J M H.2005. Statistical evaluation of remotely sensed snow-cover products with constraints from streamflow and SNOTEL measurements. Remote Sensing of Environment, 94(2): 214-231.
[1] YIN Hanmin, Jiapaer GULI, JIANG Liangliang, YU Tao, Jeanine UMUHOZA, LI Xu. Monitoring fire regimes and assessing their driving factors in Central Asia[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(5): 500-515.
[2] WANG Jie, LIU Dongwei, MA Jiali, CHENG Yingnan, WANG Lixin. Development of a large-scale remote sensing ecological index in arid areas and its application in the Aral Sea Basin[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(1): 40-55.
[3] Sanim BISSENBAYEVA, Jilili ABUDUWAILI, Assel SAPAROVA, Toqeer AHMED. Long-term variations in runoff of the Syr Darya River Basin under climate change and human activities[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(1): 56-70.
[4] Jiaxiu LI, Yaning CHEN, Zhi LI, Xiaotao HUANG. Low-carbon economic development in Central Asia based on LMDI decomposition and comparative decoupling analyses[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(4): 513-524.
[5] Yang YU, Yuanyue PI, Xiang YU, Zhijie TA, Lingxiao SUN, DISSE Markus, Fanjiang ZENG, Yaoming LI, Xi CHEN, Ruide YU. Climate change, water resources and sustainable development in the arid and semi-arid lands of Central Asia in the past 30 years[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(1): 1-14.
[6] Qingsheng LIU, Gaohuan LIU, Chong HUANG. Monitoring desertification processes in Mongolian Plateau using MODIS tasseled cap transformation and TGSI time series[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(1): 12-26.
[7] HAZAYMEH Khaled, K HASSAN Quazi. A remote sensing-based agricultural drought indicator and its implementation over a semi-arid region, Jordan[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(3): 319-330.
[8] Chuandong ZHU, Yang LU, Hongling SHI, Zizhan ZHANG. Spatial and temporal patterns of the inter-annual oscillations of glacier mass over Central Asia inferred from Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) data[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(1): 87-97.
[9] GANTSETSEG Batdelger, ISHIZUKA Masahide, KUROSAKI Yasunori, MIKAMI Masao. Topographical and hydrological effects on meso-scale vegetation in desert steppe, Mongolia[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(1): 132-142.
[10] TIAN Zheng, WU Xiuqin, DAI Erfu, ZHAO Dongsheng. SOC storage and potential of grasslands from 2000 to 2012 in central and eastern Inner Mongolia, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(3): 364-374.
[11] YIN Gang, HU Zengyun, CHEN Xi, TIYIP Tashpolat. Vegetation dynamics and its response to climate change in Central Asia[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(3): 375-388.
[12] ZHOU Lei, LYU Aifeng. Investigating natural drivers of vegetation coverage variation using MODIS imagery in Qinghai, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(1): 109-124.
[13] Sumiya VANDANDORJ, Batdelger GANTSETSEG, Bazartseren BOLDGIV. Spatial and temporal variability in vegetation cover of Mongolia and its implications[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(4): 450-461.
[14] XU Ligang, ZHOU Hongfei, DU Li, YAO Haijiao, WANG Huaibo. Precipitation trends and variability from 1950 to 2000 in arid lands of Central Asia[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(4): 514-526.
[15] ZHOU Lu, SHI Lei. Amphibian and reptilian distribution patterns in the transitional zone between the Euro-Siberian and Central Asia Subrealms[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(4): 555-565.