SnowLab

OVERVIEW

SnowLab
View of the radiometer and scatterometer installed at the Laret site

What was the purpose of SnowLab?

The aim of "SnowLab – Technical Assistance for the Deployment of Ground-Based Scatterometers and Geophysical Measurements during the SnowLab Experiment" was to provide a comprehensive multi-frequency, multi-polarisation, multi-temporal dataset of active and passive microwave measurements over snow-covered grounds to investigate the relationship between effective snow and ground parameters and the resultant signals detected by microwave radars and radiometers.

The objectives of the campaign were to provide feedback on:

Contribution of microwave observations to the description and understanding of the snow-ground compartment

  • The effects of snow accumulation (snow water equivalent, SWE) and temporal evolution of snow morphology on multi-frequency and polarimetric backscatter signatures, starting from the first snowfall for a minimum of three winter seasons
  • Temporal variability of the polarimetric and interferometric radar signatures as a function of environmental conditions, e.g., changing ground/vegetation snow type and properties
  • Characteristics and information content of X to Ku-Band tomograms during the winter season


What was the outcome of SnowLab?

The SnowLab campaign took place during four consecutive winter seasons in Switzerland. In the first season from between 2015 and 2016, the tomographic hardware and the automated data acquisition of multi-temporal, polarimetric, high-resolution tomographic profiles was tested and consolidated in Gerstenegg in the central Alps in Switzerland. In the three following winter seasons (2016 to 2019), the campaign was carried out at the SLF (Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research) test site "Laret" in Davos, Switzerland.

SnowLab provides a comprehensive multi-frequency, multi-polarisation, multi-temporal dataset of active microwave measurements over snow-covered grounds in an Alpine snow regime. The main instrument in the SnowLab campaign was ESA's SnowScat X- to Ku-band coherent tomographic scatterometer for the 2015 to 2018 campaigns and ESA's WBScat instrument for the 2018 and 2019 campaign. The active microwave measurements were complemented by micro meteorological measurements and regular snow characterization using state-of-the-art sensors, in order to allow resolving the 3D snow microstructure necessary to investigate the origin of electromagnetic signatures associated with scattering effects. The resulting data set is needed to further investigate the relationship between effective snow and ground parameters and their specific microwave backscatter, measured by radars. In addition to traditional backscatter signature measurements, SnowScat/WBScat was used to acquire tomographic and vertical snowpack measurements. All four campaigns can be considered highly successful. More than 1800 signature scans were conducted and more than 500 tomographic profiles collected. Near real-time processing and data visualisation supported the monitoring and quality control of the campaign.

A major activity was the design and implementation of a Tomographic Toolbox to explore the tomographic data acquired with SnowScat. The toolbox was implemented in Octave and can be used within the Octave environment but also stand-alone in a shell or script as part of e.g. the automated data analysis.

Download the SnowLab Final Report

Campaign Summary
Campaign name SnowLab
Year 2015 - 2019
Geographic Site Switzerland
Mission Instrument SnowScat and WBScat
Field of Application Microwave X- to Ku-band tomography
Data Size 530 GB


Digital Object Identifier: European Space Agency, 2019, SnowLab - Technical Assistance for the Deployment of Ground-Based Scatterometers and Geophysical Measurements during the SnowLab Experiment https://doi.org/10.5270/ESA-c1af670

DATA

The campaign data is available online via FTP upon submission of a data access request. An active EO Sign In account is required to submit the request.

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