SATELLITE MEASUREMENTS OF FALLING SNOW: METHODS AND APPLICATIONS
Satellite Measurements of Falling Snow: methods and applications Abstract Half of all precipitation on the planet begins as snow and snow represents the surface precipitation for much of the planet during winter months. Most of this snow is unmeasured, either because it is falling through the open sky, because it falls on uninhabited regions of the planet, or because it melts into the ocean. The most comprehensive method of measuring all snow throughout the planet and atmosphere is through radar satellites. Satellite radar measurements of falling snow have rarely been utilized, however, and many basic tendencies of global falling snow have yet to be investigated. In this dissertation, I use satellite observations and satellite evaluation experiments to investigate two applications of falling snow measurements for Earth Science research problems: determining the influence of melting snow in the ocean surface heat budget and measuring the size of snow particles inside of precipitating clouds. Using CloudSat and climate reanalysis, I demonstrate that melting snow can often dominate the cooling flow into the ocean during snow storms, and that melting snow could be an important contributor to the polar ocean heat budget. I also develop the first empirically based satellite retrieval method for snow particle size in clouds that demonstrates no change in accuracy between different experimental settings. I use this method to reveal apparent biases in currently used retrieval algorithms.