Continuous and non-destructive snow information for remote areas based on the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)

Olaf.Eisen [ at ]


Information on snowpack properties is highly relevant for avalanche warning systems, flood predictions and hydropower management within alpine regions influenced by seasonal snow cover. However, snow measurements are often scarce and labour-intense and it is still challenging to monitor snow parameters with sufficient temporal and spatial resolution, especially in remote complex terrain. Since 2012, we are running three low-cost GPS (Global Positioning System) receivers at the high-alpine study site Weissfluhjoch in Switzerland. The sensors record the globally and freely broadcasted GPS L1-band data continuously above and underneath the snow cover. Snow liquid water content and daily melt-freeze cycles were successfully calculated based on GPS signal strength losses, complex permittivity models and external snow height information. The results show high accordance with meteorological and snow-hydrological data. The evolution of liquid water content derived by GPS agrees very well (RMSE: 0.4-0.7 pp) with simultaneous non-destructive upward-looking ground-penetrating radar (upGPR) measurements from below the snow cover. Moreover, we aim to determine further snow properties by analysing temporal changes in the received GPS carrier-to-noise-power-density ratio and carrier phase information for all 32 GPS satellites, whereof preliminary results will be presented, too. Due to its non-destructive setup, low costs and low power consumption, networks of these in-situ GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) sensors can be used for a applications in remote areas, for instance to cover a better geographical distribution of snow measurements aiming to support users in the water supply and hazard management sectors.

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Conference (Talk)
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IUGG General Assembly, Prague.
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Koch, F. , Schmid, L. , Prasch, M. , Heilig, A. , Eisen, O. , Schweizer, J. and Mauser, W. (2015): Continuous and non-destructive snow information for remote areas based on the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) , IUGG General Assembly, Prague .

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