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Measuring specific surface area of snow by near-infrared photography

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The specific surface area (SSA) is considered an essential microstructural parameter for the characterization of snow. Photography in the near-infrared (NIR) spectrum is sensitive to the SSA. We calculated the snow reflectance from calibrated NIR images of snow-pit walls and measured the SSA of samples obtained at the same locations. This new method is used to map the snow stratigraphy. The correlation between reflectance and SSA was found to be 90%. Calibrated NIR photography allows quantitative determination of SSA and its spatial variation in a snow profile in two dimensions within an uncertainty of 15%. In an image covering 0.5–1.0 m2, even layers of 1 mm thickness can be documented and measured. Spatial maps of SSA are an important tool in initializing and validating physical and chemical models of the snowpack.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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