Estimating alpine snowpack properties using FMCW radar
Abstract: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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