Estimating the snow water equivalent on a glacierized high elevation site (Forni Glacier, Italy)

Senese, Antonella; Maugeri, Maurizio; Meraldi, Eraldo; Verza, Gian Pietro; Azzoni, Roberto Sergio; Compostella, Chiara; Diolaiuti, Guglielmina

We present and compare 11 years of snow data (snow depth and snow water equivalent, SWE) measured by an automatic weather station (AWS) and corroborated by data from field campaigns on the Forni Glacier in Italy. The aim of the analysis is to estimate the SWE of new snowfall and the annual SWE peak based on the average density of the new snow at the site (corresponding to the snowfall during the standard observation period of 24 h) and automated snow depth measurements. The results indicate that the daily SR50 sonic ranger measurements and the available snow pit data can be used to estimate the mean new snow density value at the site, with an error of inline-formula±6 kg minline-formula−3. Once the new snow density is known, the sonic ranger makes it possible to derive SWE values with an RMSE of 45 mm water equivalent (if compared with snow pillow measurements), which turns out to be about 8 % of the total SWE yearly average. Therefore, the methodology we present is interesting for remote locations such as glaciers or high alpine regions, as it makes it possible to estimate the total SWE using a relatively inexpensive, low-power, low-maintenance, and reliable instrument such as the sonic ranger.



Senese, Antonella / Maugeri, Maurizio / Meraldi, Eraldo / et al: Estimating the snow water equivalent on a glacierized high elevation site (Forni Glacier, Italy). 2018. Copernicus Publications.


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