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Snow probe for in situ determination of wetness and density

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3 Author(s)
Kendra, J.R. ; Dept. of Electr. Eng. & Comput. Sci., Michigan Univ., Ann Arbor, MI, USA ; Ulaby, F.T. ; Sarabandi, K.

The amount of water present in liquid form in a snowpack exercises a strong influence on the radar and radiometric responses of snow. Conventional techniques for measuring the liquid water content mυ suffer from various shortcomings, which include poor accuracy, long analysis time, poor spatial resolution, and/or cumbersome and inconvenient procedures. This paper describes the development of a hand-held electromagnetic sensor for quick and easy determination of snow liquid water content and density. A novel design of this probe affords several important advantages over existing similar sensors. Among these are improved spatial resolution and accuracy, and reduced sensitivity to interference by objects or media outside the sample volume of the sensor. The sensor actually measures the complex dielectric constant of the snow medium, and the water content and density must be obtained through the use of empirical or semi-empirical relations. To test the suitability of existing models and allow the development of new models, the snow probe was tested against the freezing calorimeter and gravimetric density determinations. From these comparisons, valid models were selected or developed. Based on the use of these models, the following specifications were established for the snow probe: 1) liquid water content measurement accuracy=±0.66% in the wetness range from 0 to 10% by volume and 2) wet snow density measurement accuracy=±0.05 g/cm3 in the density range from 0.1 to 0.6 g/cm3

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Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:32 ,  Issue: 6 )