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A new snow depth data set over northern China derived using GNSS interferometric reflectometry from a continuously operating network (GSnow-CHINA v1.0, 2013–2022)


The currently available long-term snow depth data sets are either from point-scale ground measurements or from gridded satellite/modeled/reanalysis data with coarse spatial resolution, which limits the applications in climate models, hydrological models, and regional snow disaster monitoring. Benefitting from its unique advantages of cost-effective and high spatiotemporal resolution (∼ 1000 m2, hourly in theory), snow depth retrieval using the Global Navigation Satellite System Interferometric Reflectometry (GNSS-IR) technique has become a popular topic in recent years. However, due to complex environmental and observation conditions, developing robust and operational technology to produce long-term snow depth data sets using observations from various GNSS station networks is still challenging. The two objectives of this study are (1) to propose a comprehensive framework using raw data of the complex GNSS station networks to retrieve snow depth and control its quality automatically; and (2) to produce a long-term snow depth data set over northern China (i.e., GSnow-CHINA v1.0, 12 h or 24 h, 2013–2022) using the proposed framework and historical data from 80 stations. The data set has high internal consistency with regards to different GNSS constellations (mean r=0.98, RMSD = 0.99 cm, and nRMSD (snow depth > 5 cm) = 0.11), different frequency bands (mean r = 0.97, RMSD = 1.46 cm, and nRMSD (snow depth > 5 cm) = 0.16), and different GNSS receivers (mean r = 0.62). The data set also has high external consistency with the in situ measurements and the passive microwave (PMW) product, with a consistent illustration of the interannual snow depth variability. Additionally, the result show the potential of GNSS to derive hourly snow depth observations for better monitoring of snow disasters. The proposed framework to develop the data set provides comprehensive and supportive information for users to process raw data of ground GNSS stations with complex environmental conditions and various observation conditions. The resulting GSnow-CHINA v1.0 data set is distinguished from the current point-scale in situ data or coarse-gridded data, which can be used as an independent data source for validation purposes. The data set is also useful for regional climate research and other meteorological and hydrological applications. The algorithm and data files will be maintained and updated as more data become available in the future. The GSnow-CHINA v1.0 data set is available at the National Tibetan Plateau/Third Pole Environment Data Center via https://doi.org/10.11888/Cryos.tpdc.271839 (Wan et al., 2021).

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