Our mission is to revolutionize the estimation of water reserves stored as seasonal snow in the mountains. This critical information can be used to optimize hydro-power operations, assist with flood forecasting, estimate fresh water resources and to help plan water utilization from local to regional scales.
We utilize state of the art Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) based methodology to capture the variability in snow depth at 300-500 meter spatial resolution, across vast mountain ranges with an unprecedented weekly temporal revisit frequency. The achieved retrieval accuracy is already high on pixel-level and approaches that of leading airborne lidar methods at the watershed scale.
The satellite SAR-based snow depth estimates over mountains can be further combined with radiometer-based observations of snow water equivalent over non-mountainous regions to allow for water resource analysis from local to continental scales.
In short - we can estimate snow depth in the mountains with a weekly revisit time with an unprecedented accuracy, using methodology that has not been available before. If this information can benefit your operations, make sure to get in touch with us!
Our first commercial demonstrations in the Alps and Scandinavia are underway.
The Sentinel-1 SAR based snow depth retrieval method builds on extensive R&D by co-founder Dr. Lievens. The methodology is still further developed and exclusively licensed to Snowcap BV - a spinoff company from KU Leuven.
The key publications that describe the method and give an overview of the accuracy and its strengths and limitations are [Lievens et al. 2019] and [Lievens et al. 2022]:
Lievens, H., Demuzere, M., Marshall, H. P., Reichle, R. H., Brucker, L., and co-authors: Snow depth variability in the Northern Hemisphere mountains observed from space, Nature Communications, 10, 4629 (2019).
Lievens, H., Brangers, I., Marshall, H. P., Jonas, T., Olefs, M., and De Lannoy, G.: Sentinel-1 snow depth retrieval at sub-kilometer resolution over the European Alps, The Cryosphere, 16, 159-177 (2022).
The Passive Microwave (PMW) based snow water equivalent retrieval approach, available to complement the SAR-based retrievals (outside mountains), builds on research by co-founder Dr. Luojus and several reserachers at FMI and ECCC. The approach was originally developed by Prof. J. Pulliainen and is in its latest form described in [Luojus et al. 2021]:
Luojus, K., Pulliainen, J., Takala, M. et al. "GlobSnow v3.0 Northern Hemisphere snow water equivalent dataset", Scientific Data 8, 163 (2021).
We are uniquely able to complement the SAR-based snow retrievals with PMW-based SWE data to estimate seasonal snow cover in all relevant conditions.
The key breakthrough of Snowcap is our ability to produce near-real time high-resolution snow depth maps for mountains with high accuracy and frequent coverage.
Dr. Hans Lievens is co-founder and CEO of Snowcap. He is also affiliated with Ghent University, Belgium, where he investigates remote sensing applications in hydrology, with a focus on satellite retrieval algorithm development for snow and soil moisture. His core expertise covers active microwave remote sensing, hydrological modeling and land surface data assimilation. Previously, Hans has been involved in several snow remote sensing projects as a research scientist at KU Leuven. In 2017-2018, he was a visiting scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and participated to the NASA SnowEx campaign, which laid the foundation for the innovative snow research and development.
Dr. Kari Luojus, co-founder and COO of Snowcap, started his remote sensing career at the Space Laboratory of TKK (Aalto Univ.) in 2002 and joined Finnish Meteorological Institute in 2008. Dr Luojus led the ESA GLobSnow-1 and GlobSnow-2 projects (2008-2014), where the PMW SWE based retrieval methodology was extended to cover the whole Northern Hemisphere and FMI produced the first long-term climate data records of SWE, which later led to the Nature publication in 2020. Dr. Luojus continues to lead the Satellite services and research group at FMI, contributes to the ESA CIMR Mission Advisory Group, the WMO Global Cryosphere Watch and spends most of his working time with Copernicus Global Land Service, EEA HRSI service, ESA Snow CCI, and a number of other projects dealing with remote sensing of snow.