Remote monitoring of snow cover pressure on the underlying surface

Co-author(s): Aleksey Kaplin

Demonstration of hardware and software complex for continuous remote monitoring of snow cover pressure on the underlying surface and the results of the complex operation.

Poster’s content: principal scheme of hardware and software complex, interaction description of parts of the complex, goals and objectives of the complex, description of studies that have already been performed with geographical references, primary analysis of the received data, contact information of the workgroup.

Observations over snow accumulation in avalanche paths and distribution of snow on the slopes are fundamental for snow cover researching as well as for avalanche forecasting. The main idea of this project is to measure not the height of the snow cover, but directly the pressure of the snow mass on the underlying surface. Observations are carried out continuously, in automatic basis, with a programmed measurement frequency. Due to the continuity of measurements, it becomes possible to accurately and efficiently track changes in the pressure exerted by the snow cover. That means it’s possible to calculate, among other things, the pressure of freshly formed layers of snow on the old snow cover. This also gives us opportunity to register the fact of an avalanche release, to measure the additional pressure arising during the work on the artificial avalanches release and increasing the intrinsic strength of hard snow slabs. A number of these parameters were not possible for measurement by pre-existing means.

Installed at key points of the avalanche path, Snow42 tensometric platforms allow obtaining the most representative data on the state of the snow cover, the dynamics of its change, registering the time of the beginning and end of snowfall and blizzard, and the fact of an avalanche. Based on the data obtained, it is possible to assume the relationship between the rate of load growth and the probability of avalanche collapse. These measurements are relying on the relationship between the temporal parameters of the pressure distribution of the snow mass and stratigraphic studies of each layer in the total load, the load on the underlying layers and the strength characteristics of the layers. As a result of complex data processing, taking into account the results of snow measuring and photogrammetric surveys, we can build a continuous model of the distribution and stratigraphic structure of the snow cover in the source.

The complex consists of an autonomous automated recorder controlled remotely both via the Internet and via an SMS channel. Registrar autonomy – up to 180 days.

In avalanche path, the platform itself is attached to the underlying surface using anchors; after installation, the angle of inclination of the underlying surface at the installation site and the angle of inclination of the platform are measured. The supply and transmission cables are pulled along the underlying surface to a safe point near avalanche foci to place the transmitting antenna above the maximum snow accumulation level in the region and for the possibility of quick replacement of the battery. The coordinates of the installed platform are registered using a GPS navigator. Measurements of the pressure of the snow mass are made in the standard mode, once every three hours, at standard meteorological term. Additional measurement modes – measurements during snowfalls and blizzards, in which this process are made every 10 minutes, and measurement mode during forced avalanche descent – 60 times per minute. These modes are activated manually by sending the appropriate command via GSM communication. The measurement results are processed on a special server, which, on the one hand, receives the data sent by the platform, and on the other hand, processes the received data and collects it. All data is displayed on a special site by the user’s request.

Analyze the data received from the web of platforms and meteorogical stations give good possibility to create a short-term forecast of snow accumulation and avalanche forecast. To test the complex and refine the methods for processing the obtained data in the second half of the 2019-2020 winter season, three platforms were installed in two avalanche paths of the Khibiny mountain range. The data from the platforms supplemented the meteorological data obtained on the Aikuayvenchorr, the data of visual snow survey and stratigraphic observations (Map-scheme – Fig. 2).


This presentation will be live:

Monday October 5 (14:00 – 15:30 MDT)
Live meeting will be available only 14:00 – 14:40, sorry. Security code, if need – vssw2020. Please email us with any questions! about practical and field aspects of research and use research in avalanche forecasting, about technical aspects.