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Snow water equivalent (SWE) is identified as the key element of the snowpack that impacts rivers' streamflow and water cycle. Both active and passive microwave remote sensing methods have been used to retrieve SWE, but there does not currently exist a SWE product that provides useful estimates in mountainous terrain. Active sensors provide higher-resolution observations, but the suitable radar frequencies and temporal repeat intervals have not been available until recently. Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) has been shown to have the potential to estimate SWE change. In this study, we apply this technique to a long time series of 6 d temporal repeat Sentinel-1 C-band data from the 2020–2021 winter. The retrievals show statistically significant correlations both temporally and spatially with independent in situ measurements of SWE. The SWE change measurements vary between −5.3 and 9.4 cm over the entire time series and all the in situ stations. The Pearson correlation and RMSE between retrieved SWE change observations and in situ stations measurements are 0.8 and 0.93 cm, respectively. The total retrieved SWE in the entire 2020–2021 time series shows an SWE error of less than 2 cm for the nine in situ stations in the scene. Additionally, the retrieved SWE using Sentinel-1 data is well correlated with lidar snow depth data, with correlation of more than 0.47. Low temporal coherence is identified as the main reason for degrading the performance of SWE retrieval using InSAR data. We also show that the performance of the phase unwrapping algorithm degrades in regions with low temporal coherence. A higher frequency such as L-band improves the temporal coherence and SWE ambiguity. SWE retrieval using C-band Sentinel-1 data is shown to be successful, but faster revisit is required to avoid low temporal coherence. Global SWE retrieval using radar interferometry will have a great opportunity with the upcoming L-band 12 d repeat-pass NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) data and the future 6 d repeat-pass Radar Observing System for Europe in L-band (ROSE-L) data.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.