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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-207
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-207
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  29 Jul 2020

29 Jul 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

A low-cost method for monitoring snow characteristics at remote field sites

Rosamond J. Tutton and Robert G. Way Rosamond J. Tutton and Robert G. Way
  • Department of Geography and Planning, Queen’s University, Kingston, ONK7L 3N9, Canada

Abstract. The lack of spatially distributed snow depth measurements in natural environments is a challenge worldwide but particularly in northern regions such as coastal Labrador where changes to snow conditions directly impact indigenous livelihoods, local vegetation, permafrost distribution and wildlife habitat. This problem is exacerbated by the lack of cost-efficient and reliable snow observation methods available to researchers studying cryosphere-vegetation interactions in remote regions. In this study, we propose a new method termed snow characterization with light and temperature (SCLT) for estimating snow depth using vertically arranged multivariate (light and temperature) data loggers. To test this new approach, six snow stakes outfitted with SCLT loggers were installed in forested and tundra ecotypes in Arctic and Subarctic Labrador. The results from one-year of field measurement indicate that daily maximum light intensity (lux) at snow covered sensors is diminished by more than an order of magnitude compared to uncovered sensors. This contrast enables differentiation between snow coverage at different sensor heights and allows for robust determination of daily snow heights throughout the year. Further validation of SCLT is needed to resolve ambiguities with thresholds for snow detection and to elucidate the impacts of snow density on retrieved light and temperature profiles. However, the results presented in this study suggest that the proposed technique represents a significant improvement over prior methods for snow depth characterization at remote field sites in terms of practicality, simplicity, and versatility.

Rosamond J. Tutton and Robert G. Way

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Rosamond J. Tutton and Robert G. Way

Rosamond J. Tutton and Robert G. Way

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Latest update: 04 Aug 2020
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Short summary
Snow cover plays a critical role in everyday life for people around the globe. Regular measurements of snow cover usually occur only in larger communities because snow monitoring equipment is costly. In this study, we developed a new low-cost method for estimating snow depth and tested it continuously for one year at six remote field locations in coastal Labrador, Canada. Field testing suggests that our method is a promising option for researchers in need of a low-cost snow measurement system.
Snow cover plays a critical role in everyday life for people around the globe. Regular...
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