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Keywords:

  • snow;
  • snow measurement;
  • snow tubes;
  • mountain snow;
  • southwestern Alberta

Abstract

Snow tube samplers are the primary method of measuring snow water equivalent (SWE) in the field, as they are considerably less destructive to the snowpack and faster to use than traditional snow pit techniques. This study evaluates the performance of three commonly used snow tube designs: Standard Federal, Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC), and SnowHydro. The Standard Federal and MSC designs have previously been extensively tested; however, the SnowHydro is a new design for which an error analysis has not yet been published. We compared the three designs in a shallow, highly stratified snowpack in both a forest and a clearcut, conditions that are not well represented in previous studies. While the Standard Federal produced SWE values closest to snow pit measurements, the SnowHydro snow tube outperformed the other two designs in terms of coring performance and produced more consistent SWE measurements. Although this is the first published study to quantify the performance of the SnowHydro sampler, additional studies under varying snow conditions are required to adequately quantify sampling errors. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.