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Landsat Fractional Snow Covered Area Science Products

Snow cover is spatially and temporally variable and is often concentrated in remote or inaccessible land regions making spaceborne remote sensing the most feasible approach to measure and monitor snow cover change. Landsat’s spatial resolution offers the capability to resolve snow cover patterns across topographically complex mountainous regions.

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While Landsat’s acquisition frequency limits analysis of short-term snow cover variations, longer term changes in snow cover duration and persistence can be detected. The Landsat Fractional Snow Covered Area (fSCA) product provides per-pixel fractional snow cover maps that indicate the percentage of a pixel covered by snow. 

The table below displays how different communities use Landsat fSCA products in their research. 

Community Potential Use
Colorado State University Western U.S. snowpack
Various conference connections Planning and management of fire occurrence or managed lands
Landsat science Reference for other Landsat Science Products

The images below are examples of how Landsat Fractional Snow Covered Area data are used. 

Example of the Landsat Collection 2 Fractional Snow Covered Snow product
Pine, cedar, and fir forests ensure year-round tree cover on the west sides of the mountain range. To the east sits Carson Desert. Lake Tahoe, a freshwater lake, straddles the California-Nevada state line. It is the second deepest lake in the United States, after Crater Lake in Oregon. To the right, you'll see just the snow cover of the area. This year snowfall and cold temperatures set records. Using Landsat data, researchers can determine how much snow covers each pixel. Dark pixels have little to no snow, while light pixels have mostly or all snow.