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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 13 Dec 2018

Research article | 13 Dec 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Identification of blowing snow particles in images from a multi-angle snowflake camera

Mathieu Schaer, Christophe Praz, and Alexis Berne Mathieu Schaer et al.
  • Environmental Remote Sensing Laboratory, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland

Abstract. A new method to automatically discriminate between hydrometeors and blowing snow particles on Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera (MASC) images is introduced. The method uses four selected descriptors related to the image frequency, the number of particles detected per image as well as their size and geometry to classify each individual image. The classification task is achieved with a two components Gaussian Mixture Model fitted on a subset of representative images of each class from field campaigns in Antarctica and Davos, Switzerland. The performance is evaluated by labelling the subset of images on which the model was fitted. An overall accuracy and Cohen's Kappa score of 99.4 and 98.8 %, respectively, is achieved. In a second step, the probabilistic information is used to flag images composed of a mix of blowing snow particles and hydrometeors, which turns out to occur frequently. The percentage of images belonging to each class from an entire austral summer in Antartica and during a winter in Davos, respectively, are presented. The capability to distinguish precipitation, blowing snow and a mix of those in MASC images is highly relevant to disentangle the complex interactions between wind, snowflakes and snowpack close to the surface.

Mathieu Schaer et al.
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Mathieu Schaer et al.
Mathieu Schaer et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Wind and precipitation often occur together, making difficult the distinction between particles coming from the atmosphere and those blown by the wind. This is however a crucial task to accurately close the surface mass balance. We propose an algorithm based on Gaussian mixture models to separate blowing snow and precipitation in images collected by a multi-angle snowflake camera (MASC). The algorithm is trained and (positively) evaluated using data collected in the Swiss Alps and in Antarctica.
Wind and precipitation often occur together, making difficult the distinction between particles...