Journal cover Journal topic
The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/tc-2016-295
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
31 Jan 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).
On measuring snow ablation rates in alpine terrain with a mobile GPR device
Nena Griessinger1,2, Franziska Mohr2, and Tobias Jonas1 1WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos, Switzerland
2Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Abstract. 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 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.

Citation: Griessinger, N., Mohr, F., and Jonas, T.: On measuring snow ablation rates in alpine terrain with a mobile GPR device, The Cryosphere Discuss., doi:10.5194/tc-2016-295, in review, 2017.
Nena Griessinger et al.
Nena Griessinger et al.
Nena Griessinger et al.

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Short summary
We demonstrate the potential of ground penetrating radar for efficient and accurate measurements of snow depth and snow water equivalent when liquid water is present in the snowpack. We were able to derive snow ablation rates with high accuracy from repeated measurements. We present the design of our light-weight setup consisting of a common-mid-point assembly on a plastic sled, which is mobile even in complex heterogeneous terrain like our investigated field sites in the eastern Swiss Alps.
We demonstrate the potential of ground penetrating radar for efficient and accurate measurements...
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