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16 March 2005

Severe Snow in the Hindu Kush

In the Hindu Kush Mountain Range in southwest Asia, severe snow has devastated Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. Heavy snow that has already crushed homes and spawned avalanches threatens to flood the region with meltwater when temperatures rise.

In addition to distributiing NASA snow and ice products, NSIDC scientists are developing innovative tools to monitor snow cover for climate studies, hydrologic research, and catastrophic events such as the severe snowfall in the Hindu Kush.

Snow cover map
This map shows fractional snow-covered area on 16 February 2005, as measured by the NASA EOS Terra Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor. The image has been masked for cloud cover, and the MODIS data have been enhanced with the MODIS Snow Covered Area and Grain Size/Albedo (MODSCAG) model. MODSCAG has been developed under NASA's Research, Education and Applications Solution Network (REASoN) in a collaborative project between the University of California, Santa Barbara; NSIDC; and Oregon State University. It is specifically aimed at providing an accurate estimate of snow cover for regional studies in mountainous areas.
In remote sensing, there is a tradeoff between spatial resolution and swath width (and consequently the frequency of observations). MODIS has a spatial resolution of 500 meters, but snow cover usually varies at a much smaller spatial scale. These smaller-scale variations can introduce artifacts into snow cover measurements that record either "snow" or "no snow" per 500-meter pixel. The MODSCAG model estimates the fractional snow cover in each 500-meter pixel to provide finer snow measurements.
(Image by Tom Painter, NSIDC)


Snow water equivalent map
This map shows snow water equivalent anomalies for 14-20 February 2005, derived from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Satellite F13 Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I). Pink values represent positive anomalies (more snow water equivalent than normal).
(Image by R. L. Armstrong and M. J. Brodzik, NSIDC)


Snow and clouds map
This false-color map shows the Hindu Kush region on 16 February 2005. In this image, snow appears in yellow and clouds appear in white.
(Image by Tom Painter, NSIDC)


For additional images and information, visit Snow in the Hindu Kush from the NASA Earth Observatory.


For citation and image use information, please contact NSIDC User Services at nsidc@nsidc.org or 303 492 6199.