Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-163
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-163

  02 Jun 2021

02 Jun 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Review article: Performance assessment of electromagnetic wave-based field sensors for SWE monitoring   

Alain Royer1,2, Alexandre Roy3,2, Sylvain Jutras4, and Alexandre Langlois1,2 Alain Royer et al.
  • 1Centre d’Applications et de Recherche en Télédétection (CARTEL), Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada
  • 2Centre d’études nordiques, Québec, Canada
  • 3Département des Sciences de l’Environnement, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada
  • 4Département des sciences du bois et de la forêt, Université Laval, Québec City, Québec, Canada

Abstract. Continuous and spatially distributed data of snow mass (snow water equivalent, SWE) from automatic ground-based measurements are increasingly required for climate change studies and for hydrological applications (snow hydrological model improvement and data assimilation). We present and compare four new-generation non-invasive sensors that are based on electromagnetic waves for direct measurements of SWE: Cosmic Ray Neutron Probe (CNRP); Gamma Ray Monitoring (GMON) scintillator; frequency-modulated continuous-wave radar (FMCW-Radar) at 24 GHz; and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receivers for SWE retrieval. All four techniques are relatively low cost, have low power requirements, provide continuous and autonomous measurements, and can be installed in remote areas. Their operating principles are briefly summarized before examples of comparative measurements are provided. A performance review comparing their advantages, drawbacks and accuracies is discussed. Overall instrument accuracy is estimated to range between 9 and 15 %.

Alain Royer et al.

Status: open (until 28 Jul 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Alain Royer et al.

Alain Royer et al.

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Short summary
Dense spatially distributed networks of autonomous instruments for continuously measuring the amount of snow on the ground are needed for operational water resource and flood management and for northern climate change monitoring. Four low-cost new-generation non-invasive sensors are compared. A review of their advantages, drawbacks and accuracies is discussed. This performance analysis is intended to help researchers and decision makers choose the one system that is best suited to their needs.