CoReH2O Science - Scientific Preparation for the Snow Hydrology Mission CoReH2O

CoReH2O will deliver detailed spatial data on key parameters of the global snow and ice masses for applications in climate research and hydrology.

Short Description

The project contributes to scientific preparations for the satellite mission Cold Regions Hydrology High-Resolution Observatory (CoReH2O). CoReH2O is one of three candidate Earth Explorer Core missions which were selected by ESA for detailed scientific and technical feasibility studies (Phase A) in 2009. One of these missions will be selected for implementation in 2013 and will be launched in 2018. Earth Explorer missions focus on the science and research elements of ESA's Living Planet Programme.

The proposed sensor is a dual frequency, X- and Ku-band (9.6 and 17.2 GHz), dual-polarized synthetic aperture radar (SAR). The primary parameters to be delivered by the mission include maps of snow extent, the mass of snow (the snow water equivalent, SWE) on land surfaces and snow accumulation on glaciers. The activities performed in this project complement the Phase-A studies carried out within the ESA Earth Explorer Programme.

The project tasks included contributions to field campaigns on radar measurements of snow, the analysis of these data, the improvement of models for radar backscatter interactions with snow-covered terrain, and the testing and validation of procedures for extracting snow and ice parameters from radar measurements.

The SnowScat instrument recorded radar backscatter throughout the winter at the same radar frequencies as the CoReH2O sensor.

The time series of snow mass (SWE) retrieved from these data provide the accuracy required for SWE products, as shown by the comparison with in-situ snow measurements. First tests with a new Ku- and X- band SAR sensor (SnowSAR) developed for ESA showed promising results for deriving SWE maps from radar data.

The project was carried out in cooperation with associated international partners:

  • Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki
  • Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena

Project Partners


ENVEO Environmental Earth Observation IT GmbH - Helmut Rott, Thomas Nagler


EOX IT Services GmbH - Gerhard Triebnig

Contact Address

ENVEO Environmental Earth Observation IT GmbH
Helmut Rott & Thomas Nagler
TechnikerstraƟe 21a
A-6020 Innsbruck
Tel.: +43 (512) 50748 - 30