Introduction
COSMOS: Continuous Snow Monitoring System for Snow Cover, Snow Depth and Snow-Water-Equivalent
Photo by USGS on Unsplash
At ExoLabs we developed and are still actively improving a pipeline from satellite imagery to three main characteristics of snow:
  • Snow Cover: A global map of probabilities that a respective pixel is covered in snow.
  • Snow Depth: Regional maps of the height of snow cover.
  • Snow-Water-Equivalent: Snow can be dry or wet, compact or loose. Snow density combined with snow depth provides the critical information of how much water would be within a cube of snow, if melted.
These models build on top of each other and are unique in their temporal (daily) and spatial (20 m) resolution. The high influence of topography on snow distribution is considered in a novel approach, which full potential remains yet to be discovered.
The information we can provide is critical for risk assessments, outdoor activities and tourism, water resource management and hydropower generation, local weather models or environmental studies in domains like ecology or climate change.
  • Ski resorts can provide information to customers and manage their infrastructure more efficiently.
  • Hydropower plants are able to predict the run-off from snow melt in spring.
  • Rail companies know which parts of their network need special attention.
  • Scientists studying climate change can perform time-series analysis documenting the retreat of snow lines in context of global warming.
What differentiate COSMOS to other comparable systems is its level of automation and optimization in data processing. Thanks to a flexible but robust infrastructure setup, we are able to deliver the product to new costumers that were hindered to use such data in the past by the resource allocation that was required. To understand what COSMOS really is, it is important to understand what it provides and what it doesn't provide.

What COSMOS provides

COSMOS is a stack of information layers and various tools to access them. The provided information is based on satellite data and complementary sources, meaning that satellite data are the primary source of information. Because the information layers are mainly based on satellite data, the delivered information typically has a time lag of a few hours (up to a few days, depending on availability and cloud cover).

What COSMOS does not provide

COSMOS complements information of meteorological models, webcam images and weather stations. Data provided by COSMOS is similar to these informations but not identical in its nature. The time lag of satellite acquisitions, combined with the actuality of weather station updates, leads to a timely discrepancy that needs to be considered.
Last modified 1yr ago