Data Description

Arctic Snow: Daily maps of the snow depth on top of the floating sea ice. This dataset also determines the multi-year ice cover of the Arctic Ocean where, at this point, no snow depth can be retrieved. Reference: Markus, T. and D.J. Cavalieri, Snow depth distribution over sea ice in the Southern Ocean from satellite passive microwave data, in Antarctic Sea Ice Physical Processes, Interactions and Variability, Antarctic Research Series, 74, edited by M.O. Jeffries, pp.19-40, AGU, Washington, D.C., 1998. Comiso, J.C., D.J. Cavalieri, and T. Markus, Sea ice concentration, ice temperature, and snow depth using AMSR-E data, IEEE Trans. Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 41(2), 243-252, 2003.

Data Format

Northern Hemisphere Snow depth files from SMMR and SSM/I (1978-)

Data processed with a five day history. This allows some determination of variability in the snowcover due to weather events or melt events, which gets flagged in the dataset.

Files are stored in directories per winter season (WSYYYY_YYYYdata), starting 1 October and ending 30 September the following year. Files are named ssmi_n_snowdepth_5day_YYYYDDD.img, where YYYY is the year and DDD is the day-of-year. Files may be gzipped.

Int arrays, 304 x 448, Little-endian (unix will need to byteswap)

Values are:

0-100 snow depth in cm
110 missing
120 land
130 open water
140 multi-year ice (no snow calculations done)
150 variability flag (significant changes in the snow depth over the period covered) as a result of weather effects and short-term melt events.
160 summer melt (5 consecutive variable days after April 1; will be flagged melt until 1 October)

Thorsten Markus,, 301-614-5882
Alvaro Ivanoff,, 301-614-5886


Browse Images (gif)

example of snow depth values and colorbar

  • WS2007_2008 - zip, 4.27 MB: 2007-2008 Browse images of snow depth
  • WS2008_2009 - zip, 4.23 MB: 2008-2009 Browse images of snow depth
  • WS2009_2010 - zip, 4.21 MB: 2009-2010 Browse images of snow depth
  • WS2010_2011 - zip, 4.27 MB: 2010-2011 Browse images of snow depth
  • WS2012_2013 - zip, 4.25 MB: 2011-2012 Browse images of snow depth
  • WS2012_2013 - zip, 4.18 MB: 2012-2013 Browse images of snow depth
  • WS2013_2014 - zip, 4.16 MB: 2013-2014 Browse images of snow depth
  • WS2014_2015 - zip, 4.2 MB: 2014-2015 Browse images of snow depth
  • WS2015_2016 - zip, 4.09 MB: 2015-2016 Browse images of snow depth
  • WS2016_2017 - zip, 4.16 MB: 2016-2017 Browse images of snow depth
  • WS2017_2018 - zip, 3.19 MB: 2017-2018 Browse images of snow depth