From observation to the quantification of snow processes with a time-lapse camera network
A network of 45 spatially distributed time-lapse cameras was used to carry out a continuous observation of snow processes and snow cover properties throughout three mid-latitude medium elevation mountain catchments in hourly intervals during the winter seasons of 2010/2011 and 2011/2012. A simple technical modification was conducted to enable the deployment of the standard digital cameras in any location. Image analysis software was applied to extract information about snow depth, surface albedo and canopy interception from the digital images. Furthermore, the distributed design of the camera network made it possible to identify the elevation of the snow rain interface for any precipitation event which is very helpful for the interpretation of winter flooding events resulting from snow melt. Exemplary data for all these analyses is presented to show the potential fields of application of this innovative approach. Study results prove that the application of digital time-lapse photography is an appropriate technique to observe the spatial distribution and temporal evolution of seasonal snow covers in a mountainous environment.