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What's the difference between snow cover and fractional snow cover? Are they kind of synonyms? What would be a definition of fractional snow cover?

thanks a lot!

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Fractional Snow Cover (FSC) is a property of snow cover. The fractional snow cover property is used in a variety of contexts, most common of which is meteorological models. Snow cover algorithms applied to visible imagery remote sensing data are used to derive fractional snow cover for each pixel. This information is typically re-gridded and time-averaged for use by external users.

This GOES site explains:

Most satellite-based snow cover products provide a "binary" map, whereby each pixel is classified as either "snow" or "not snow". In contrast, the FSC algorithm is an optimized spectral mixture analysis that uses the broad spectrum from ABI to determine the fractional cover of snow, vegetation, and soils.

More information about snow cover products from GOES and MODIS can be seen here:

http://www.goes-r.gov/products/baseline-snow-cover.html

https://modis.gsfc.nasa.gov/data/dataprod/mod10.php

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  • $\begingroup$ This does not answer the question regarding the difference between the terms. In addition there is a difference between a property e.g. snow cover and the algorithm for calculating the value of that property. $\endgroup$ – haresfur Jun 6 '17 at 2:03
  • $\begingroup$ Made some changes to address your comments $\endgroup$ – farrenthorpe Jun 6 '17 at 2:33
  • $\begingroup$ Your edits help round out the answer. I'm not going to worry too much about my down-votes but they do reinforce the difference between fractional and total cover. I do want to point out that satellite remote sensing products are only one way of getting land cover values and that meteorological models are only one use for the information. $\endgroup$ – haresfur Jun 13 '17 at 22:46
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I would say that snow cover is the total area of snow while fractional snow cover is the fraction of an area (e.g. a pixel in a remote sensing product) covered with snow. I suspect people get a bit sloppy and say snow cover when they mean fractional snow cover if they think it is clear what they mean from context.

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