Document Type


Publication Date



Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


This paper describes a new algorithm that is able to detect snowfall and retrieve the associated snow water path (SWP), for any surface type, using the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI). The algorithm is tuned and evaluated against coincident observations of the Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) onboard CloudSat. It is composed of three modules for (i) snowfall detection, (ii) supercooled droplet detection and (iii) SWP retrieval. This algorithm takes into account environmental conditions to retrieve SWP and does not rely on any surface classification scheme. The snowfall detection module is able to detect 83% of snowfall events including light SWP (down to 1 × 10−3 kg·m−2) with a false alarm ratio of 0.12. The supercooled detection module detects 97% of events, with a false alarm ratio of 0.05. The SWP estimates show a relative bias of −11%, a correlation of 0.84 and a root mean square error of 0.04 kg·m−2. Several applications of the algorithm are highlighted: Three case studies of snowfall events are investigated, and a 2-year high resolution 70°S–70°N snowfall occurrence distribution is presented. These results illustrate the high potential of this algorithm for snowfall detection and SWP retrieval using GMI.

Publisher's Statement

© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

Remote Sensing

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Publisher's PDF



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.