Research Letters

Contemporary spatio-temporal patterns of snow cover over the Drakensberg

N. Mulder, S. W. Grab
South African Journal of Science | Vol 105, No 5/6 | a96 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajs.v105i5/6.96 | © 2010 N. Mulder, S. W. Grab | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 January 2010 | Published: 19 January 2010

About the author(s)

N. Mulder, School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, WITS 2050, South Africa., South Africa
S. W. Grab, School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, WITS 2050, South Africa., South Africa

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Abstract

Sixteen years of low-resolution Landsat 5 and 7 satellite images were used to construct Boolean images of snow cover over the Drakensberg through a GIS. Contemporary patterns of snow cover, including altitudinal variations, were determined for individual months and various seasons. The seasonal occurrence and spatial influence of various snow-producing weather systems were determined through remote sensing and the consultation of daily climate data and synoptic charts. A proportional relationship was found between altitude of snow-covered pixels and the number of occurrences that pixels were covered in snow. The highest incidence and most widespread snow cover occurred from June to August; spring snow occurred preferentially in the central and southern Drakensberg regions. Cold fronts and associated cut-off lows accounted for about 80% of snow cover over the Drakensberg.

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