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Intercomparison of measurements of bulk snow density and water equivalent of snow cover with snow core samplers: instrumental bias and variability induced by observers
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  • Ignacio Lopez-Moreno,
  • Leena Leppänen,
  • Bartłomiej Luks,
  • Ladislav Holko,
  • Ghislain Picard,
  • Alba Sanmiguel-Vallelado,
  • Esteban Alonso-González,
  • David C. Finger,
  • Ali Nadir Arslan,
  • Katalin Gillemot,
  • Aynur Sensoy,
  • Arda Sorman,
  • Mustafa Cansaran Ertaş,
  • Charles Fierz,
  • Christoph Marty,
  • Steven Fassnacht
Ignacio Lopez-Moreno
Pyrenean Institute of Ecology

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Leena Leppänen
Finnish Meteorological Institute
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Bartłomiej Luks
Polska Akademia Nauk Instytut Geofizyki
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Ladislav Holko
Slovak Academy of Sciences
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Ghislain Picard
University of Grenoble Graduate School of Environmental and Organisational Systems Science and Engineering
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Alba Sanmiguel-Vallelado
Instituto Pirenaico de Ecologia
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Esteban Alonso-González
Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología
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David C. Finger
Sustainability Institute and Forum (SIF), School of Science and Engineering, Reykjavik University, Iceland
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Ali Nadir Arslan
Finnish Meteorological Institute
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Katalin Gillemot
University of Vienna
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Aynur Sensoy
Eskişehir Technical University
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Arda Sorman
Eskişehir Technical University
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Mustafa Cansaran Ertaş
Eskişehir Technical University
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Charles Fierz
Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research
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Christoph Marty
Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research
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Steven Fassnacht
Colorado State University
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Manually collected snow data are often considered as ground truth for many applications such as climatological or hydrological studies. However, there are many sources of uncertainty that are not quantified in detail. For the determination of water equivalent of snow cover (SWE), different snow core samplers and scales are used, but they are all based on the same measurement principle. We conducted two field campaigns with 9 samplers commonly used in observational measurements and research in Europe and northern America to better quantify uncertainties when measuring depth, density and SWE with core samplers. During the first campaign, as a first approach to distinguish snow variability measured at the plot and at the point scale, repeated measurements were taken along two 20 m long snow pits. The results revealed a much higher variability of SWE at the plot scale (resulting from both natural variability and instrumental bias) compared to repeated measurements at the same spot (resulting mostly from error induced by observers or very small scale variability of snow depth). The exceptionally homogeneous snowpack found in the second campaign permitted to almost neglect the natural variability of the snowpack properties and focus on the separation between instrumental bias and error induced by observers. Under such measurement conditions, the uncertainty in bulk snow density estimation is about 5% for an individual instrument and is close to 10% among different instruments. Results confirmed that instrumental bias exceeded both the natural variability and the error induced by observers, even in the case when observers were not familiar with a given snow core sampler.
11 Dec 2019Submitted to Hydrological Processes
16 Dec 2019Submission Checks Completed
16 Dec 2019Assigned to Editor
16 Dec 2019Reviewer(s) Assigned
05 Mar 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
17 Mar 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
11 Apr 20201st Revision Received
13 Apr 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
13 Apr 2020Submission Checks Completed
13 Apr 2020Assigned to Editor
20 Apr 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
20 Apr 2020Editorial Decision: Accept