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A parallel-probe saturation profiler: a new technique for fast profiling of meltwater saturation in a seasonal snowpack

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We describe a parallel-probe saturation profiler (PPSP) for accurate and fast profiling of liquid-water saturations in a snowpack. This device utilizes the absorption of electrical energy, by water molecules under the action of an external electric field, due to instantaneous rotations from initially random orientations to the orientation of the applied electric field. Our observations show that the height of first peak signal (HFPS), i.e. the difference between the maxima and minima in the PPSP signal-response time series, is proportional to the liquid-water content and the water saturation of snow. The HFPS corresponding to different liquid-water contents were obtained from various naturally occurring snow types and were observed to be proportional to the water saturation of the snow, irrespective of snow types. For simultaneous measurements at corresponding depths in a snowpack, a position encoder supports the PPSP. This device was calibrated for various types of snow samples and was then tested on the snow covers under different climatic zones of the Himalaya. The operation of the PPSP is easy and fast. The distribution of liquid water within a large snow cover can be estimated speedily using the PPSP, with a vertical resolution of 7 mm.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2009

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  • 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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