Back to search

SSF-Svalbard Science Forum

Estimation of snow depth and snow water equivalent based on GNSS-IR method

Awarded: NOK 64,124

Project Manager:

Project Number:


Project Period:

2022 - 2023

Funding received from:

Global Navigation Satellite System interferometric reflectometry (GNSS-IR) is a method that can enable the determination of many characteristics of the environment that surrounds the measuring antenna. It is based on the characteristics of the reflected radio waves, which vary depending on the type of surface cover. The phenomena that can be measured with this method can be, for example, soil moisture, water level, and also, snow depth. Based on that, the snow water equivalent (SWE) can be estimated. This parameter represents the amount of water stored in snow, which equals the water depth once the snow has melted. SWE measurements are therefore necessary for the management of water supply in seasonal snow-covered regions. The great advantage of this method of snow sensing is that it is mainly an automated process, where the fieldwork is limited to choosing the proper location and installation of the surveying equipment. Once the GNSS receivers and antennas are set, they do not require much service. Another advantage of the method is that it allows for continuous data collection when the manual measurements can be done only at a specific moment in time. Taking that into account, the proposed method can improve the current measurements carried out at remote Arctic sites. It is also a low invasive research method with no construction works required. The use of the GNSS-IR method of snow sensing needs some preparations, which will be done during the fieldwork in Spitsbergen. If it is possible, two trips to the Spitsbergen are planned. The first one, connected with the installation and preparation of the GNSS infrastructure, for snow sensing during the snowmelt period, is planned for spring 2022. The second one is planned for summer 2022 (September), the period of time with no snow cover. Its purpose will be to determine the detailed Digital Terrain Model, which is necessary for the further data processing, and maintenance of the surveying equipment.

Funding scheme:

SSF-Svalbard Science Forum