MODIS Maps Weekend Snow Cover in the Tennessee Valley

From the traditional GOES satellite imagery used to monitor atmospheric and surface characteristics over a given region, clouds are difficult to distinguish from snow on the ground because of the similarity in the  albedo of these features at visible wavelengths.  However, the multispectral channels on the MODIS scanner, aboard the NASA Terra and Aqua satellites, have the ability to differentiate  between clouds and snow on the ground because these channels are sensitive to the albedo difference between snow and clouds at near-infrared wavelengths.  The figure below demonstrates this capability for the recent snow storm in the Tennessee River Valley.  In the image, clouds remain white, while snow on the ground is designated  by various shades of red.

MODIS false color snow image from January 31, 2010 at 1919UTC differentiating clouds from snow on the ground.

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