ARL-Authored Paper Plows the Way for Improved Measurements of Snow

June, 2012

ARL scientists Tilden Meyers, John Kochendorfer, and Bruce Baker are co-authors on a Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society article on “How Well Do We Measure Snow?” that will be published in the June 2012 issue. The cover of the issue (pictured on right) shows ARL personnel (Oak Ridge Associated Universities on assignment to ARL) performing maintenance on the test bed instrumentation. The paper presents recent efforts to understand the relative accuracies of different gauges with various wind-shield configurations to measure snowfall. The results show that some progress has been made in measuring snow; yet it remains a significant challenge.

Background: The paper highlights a joint field study by NOAA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) at the NCAR Marshall, Colorado test bed. The study is being conducted in preparation for the World Meteorological Organization’s Solid Precipitation Inter-Comparison Experiment (SPICE) which starts later this year. ARL’s Bruce Baker is on the International Organizing Committee and is one of the lead scientists for this study. The data collected at the Marshall test bed will be used to evaluate a new standard for measuring solid precipitation that all participants in SPICE (Finland, Russia, Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand, Norway, and Australia) will use. The test bed was chosen as one of the lead facilities for SPICE because of the comprehensive set of instrumentation in place for the measurement of solid precipitation.


Significance:The results of this study help improve precipitation measurements, which is one of the most important atmospheric variables for ecosystem research, hydrologic forecasting, weather forecasting, and climate monitoring. While solid precipitation measurements have been the subject of many studies, there have been only a limited number of coordinated assessments on the accuracy, reliability, and repeatability of automatic precipitation measurements.

For More Information, contact: Bruce Baker