On measuring snow ablation rates in alpine terrain with a mobile GPR device

Nena Griessinger, Franziska Mohr, Tobias Jonas
2017 The Cryosphere Discussions  
Ground penetrating radar (GPR) has become a promising technique in the field of snow hydrological research. It is commonly used to measure snow depth, density, and water equivalent over large distances or along gridded snow courses. Having built and tested a mobile light-weight setup, we demonstrate that GPR is capable of accurately measuring snow ablation rates in complex alpine terrain. Our setup was optimized for efficient measurements and consisted of a common-mid-point assembly with four
more » ... ssembly with four pairs of antennas mounted to a plastic sled, which was small enough to permit safe and convenient operations. Repeated measurements were taken during the 2014/15 winter season along ten profiles within two valleys located in the eastern Swiss Alps. Resulting GPR-based data of snow depth and water equivalent as well as their respective change rates over time were in good agreement with concurrent manual measurements, in particular if accurate alignment between repeated overpasses could be achieved (root-mean-square error of 4.5 cm for snow depth, 25 mm for snow water equivalent, and 4.4 cm and 26 mm for the respective change rates). With its suitability for alpine terrain and the achieved accuracy, the presented setup could become a valuable tool to validate snowmelt models or to complement lidar-based snow surveys.
doi:10.5194/tc-2016-295 fatcat:4yvebtkcfrdebdaqbrtuw72wki