Articles | Volume 20, issue 6
Research article
 | Highlight paper
19 Jun 2020
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 19 Jun 2020

Snow avalanche detection and mapping in multitemporal and multiorbital radar images from TerraSAR-X and Sentinel-1

Silvan Leinss, Raphael Wicki, Sämi Holenstein, Simone Baffelli, and Yves Bühler

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Cited articles

Abermann, J., Eckerstorfer, M., Malnes, E., and Hansen, B. U.: A large wet snow avalanche cycle in West Greenland quantified using remote sensing and in situ observations, Nat. Hazards, 97, 517–534,, 2019. a, b
Airbus: TerraSAR-X Archive, available at:, last access: 16 June 2020. a
Bühler, Y., Hüni, A., Meister, R., Christen, M., and Kellenberger, T.: Automated detection and mapping of avalanche deposits using airborne optical remote sensing data, Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 57, 99–106,, 2009. a, b, c
Bühler, Y., Bieler, C., Pielmeier, C., Frauenfelder, R., Jaedicke, C., Schwaizer, G., Wiesmann, A., and Caduff, R.: Improved Alpine avalanche forecast service AAF, Final report, Integrated application program IAP, European Space Agency ESA, SLF, Birmensdorf, NGI, Oslo, available at: (last access: 16 June 2020), 2014. a
Bühler, Y., Hafner, E. D., Zweifel, B., Zesiger, M., and Heisig, H.: Where are the avalanches? Rapid SPOT6 satellite data acquisition to map an extreme avalanche period over the Swiss Alps, The Cryosphere, 13, 3225–3238,, 2019. a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j
Short summary
To assess snow avalanche mapping with radar satellites in Switzerland, we compare 2 m resolution TerraSAR-X images, 10 m resolution Sentinel-1 images, and optical 1.5 m resolution SPOT-6 images. We found that radar satellites provide a valuable option to map at least larger avalanches, though avalanches are mapped only partially. By combining multiple orbits and polarizations from S1, we achieved mapping results of quality almost comparable to single high-resolution TerraSAR-X images.
Final-revised paper