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Estimating alpine snowpack properties using FMCW radar

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Large variations in both snow water equivalent (SWE) and snow slope stability are known to exist in the alpine snowpack, caused by wind, topographic and microclimatic effects. This variability makes extrapolation of point measurements of snowpack properties difficult and prone to error, but these types of measurements are used to estimate SWE and stability across entire mountain ranges. Radar technology provides a promising alternative to point measurements, because large areas can be covered quickly and non-intrusively. There is great potential for obtaining information on a large spatial scale from airborne applications. Frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) radar measurements were made from the ground in several different alpine snowpacks, along with manual and in situ electrical measurements. The surface and ground reflections from the radar data, combined with an average density estimate, can provide a useful estimate of SWE. In addition, the locations of internal reflections are highly correlated with both visually identified layers and measured changes in in situ dielectric properties.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2005-01-01

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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