Journal cover Journal topic
The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-90
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
13 Jun 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal The Cryosphere (TC) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Measuring snow water equivalent from common offset GPR records through migration velocity analysis
James St. Clair1,2 and W. Steven Holbrook1 1University of Wyoming, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Laramie, WY, 82071, USA
2University of Idaho, Department of Geological Sciences, Idaho Falls, ID, 83402, USA
Abstract. Many mountainous regions depend on seasonal snowfall for their water resources. Current methods of predicting the availability of water resources rely on the long-term relationship between stream discharge and snow pack monitoring at isolated locations, which are less reliable during abnormal snow years. Ground-penetrating-radar (GPR) has been shown to be an effective tool for measuring snow water equivalent (SWE) because of the close relationship between snow density and radar velocity. However, the standard methods of measuring radar velocity can be time consuming. Here we apply a migration focusing method originally developed for extracting velocity information from diffracted energy observed in zero-offset seismic sections to the problem of estimating radar velocities in seasonal snow from common-offset GPR data. Diffractions are isolated by plane-wave-destruction filtering and the optimal migration velocity is chosen based on the varimax norm of the migrated image. We then use the radar velocity to estimate snow density, depth, and SWE. The GPR derived SWE estimates are within 3 % of manual SWE measurements when the GPR antenna is coupled to the snow surface and 18 % of the manual measurements when the antenna is mounted on the front of a snowmobile ~ 0.5 meters above the snow surface.

Citation: St. Clair, J. and Holbrook, W. S.: Measuring snow water equivalent from common offset GPR records through migration velocity analysis, The Cryosphere Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-90, in review, 2017.
James St. Clair and W. Steven Holbrook
James St. Clair and W. Steven Holbrook
James St. Clair and W. Steven Holbrook

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Short summary
We investigate the performance of a semi-automated algorithm for measuring snow water equivalent (SWE) from common-offset ground-penetrating-radar (GPR) data. The algorithm automatically estimates SWE from a selected portion of the data and the user is only required for quality control. GPR derived SWE estimates are similar to manual measurements indicating that the method is reliable. Our results will hopefully make GPR a more attractive tool for monitoring SWE in mountain watersheds.
We investigate the performance of a semi-automated algorithm for measuring snow water equivalent...
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