Snow properties have been retrieved from satellite data for many decades. While snow extent is generally felt to be obtained reliably from visible-band data, there is less confidence in the measurements of snow mass or water equivalent derived from passive microwave instruments. This paper briefly reviews historical passive microwave instruments and products, and compares the large-scale patterns from these sources to those of general circulation models and leading reanalysis products. Differences are seen to be large between the datasets, particularly over Siberia. A better understanding of the errors in both the model-based and measurement-based datasets is required to exploit both fully. Techniques to apply to the satellite measurements for improved large-scale snow data are suggested.
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