A snow capacitance instrument for the in-situ measurement of snow wetness

TitleA snow capacitance instrument for the in-situ measurement of snow wetness
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference1984
AuthorsBergman, J. S.
Conference Name52nd Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 52nd Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 1984
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationSun Valley, Idaho
KeywordsSnow quality equipment, Snow quality measurement, Water supply forecasting

Under most conditions snow is a combination of air, ice, and liquid water. Although the ratio of liquid water to ice is small, detecting the magnitude of change and movement of the liquid portion during rain on snow and melt should lead to more precise estimates of the quantity and occurrence of snowpack outflow. Improved estimates would be and aid in streamflow forecasting and reservoir operation. This paper documents the development of a multi-sensor instrument that provides a precise in-situ vertical profile of snowpack liquid water (snow wetness) by measuring changes in snow capacitance caused by variations in snow wetness. The instrument consists of opposing pairs of discs mounted every 61 cm on a 5 m vertical mast. A slightly overlapping butterfly-shaped electrical field effectively detects changes in snow wetness, around each sensor pair, within 46 cm of the mast.