Ice Characteristics Research and Snow Research

Tom Painter using the ASD FieldSpec Pro spectroradiometer to take spectral measurements of snowScientists have conducted snow and ice research for years, but at a time of significant global changes in weather patterns, research related to the cryosphere has increased dramatically within the international scientific community. The deteriorating state of glaciers, polar ice caps, snowfall, oceans, and lakes in the arctic, Antarctic, and mountainous regions of our world are at the very core of many environmental conditions being monitored.

Snow, glacier and ice remote sensing utilizing satellite sensors and field data acquisition allows for process modeling by researchers observing and trending changes in the Earth’s cryosphere. One of the early applications for high spectral resolution observations was the study of snow and ice geophysical characteristics as a way of better understanding the Earth-atmosphere radiation balance. Concurrent directional-hemispherical and angular spectral reflectance studies have also shown correlations between snow reflectance and snow grain properties, including shape and size, hardness index, density, liquid water content, snow temperature, and other physical features. Applications include climatology, avalanche monitoring, water management, and under-ice photo-biological studies. The findings of these studies lead to the improvement of global climate models.

The ability to accurately perform field reflectance and radiometric measurements is critical to geoscience applications. ASD’s FieldSpec® line of spectroradiometers offers multiple configuration options for measurements above and below the snow and ice surfaces. Among many other snow and ice science projects, ASD systems have been used to detect the optical properties of floating sea ice. Additionally, researchers frequently use FieldSpec spectroradiometers to perform the requisite field measurements for remote sensing assessments of snow cover. FieldSpec technology has also been employed to calculate the key criteria for surface energy balance modeling of snow-covered and glaciated areas.

See examples of snow and ice research applications by scientists using FieldSpec spectroradiometers in the links below.

Dust Storms Threaten Snow Packs (NPR Morning Edition, May 30, 2006)

Snow Albedo Field Validation Campaigns — Mono Lake area, March 9-20, 1998

The Third Workshop in Teddington, September 8 - 10, 1999, Abstracts of the Oral Presentations — Uncertainty and Confidence in Measurements

Additional ice characteristics research and snow research applications are also available under the Application Notes tab at the top of this page.

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