Journal cover Journal topic
The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
The Cryosphere, 8, 1139-1148, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
03 Jul 2014
Measuring the specific surface area of wet snow using 1310 nm reflectance
J.-C. Gallet1, F. Domine2,3, and M. Dumont4 1Norwegian Polar Institute, Tromsø, Norway
2Takuvik Joint International Laboratory, Université Laval (Canada) and CNRS-INSU (France), Pavillon Alexandre Vachon, 1045 avenue de La Médecine, Québec, QC, G1V 0A6, Canada
3Department of Chemistry, Université Laval, Québec, QC, Canada
4Météo-France – CNRS, CNRM-GAME UMR3589, CEN, Grenoble, France
Abstract. The specific surface area (SSA) of snow can be used as an objective measurement of grain size and is therefore a central variable to describe snow physical properties such as albedo. Snow SSA can now be easily measured in the field using optical methods based on infrared reflectance. However, existing optical methods have only been validated for dry snow. Here we test the possibility to use the DUFISSS instrument, based on the measurement of the 1310 nm reflectance of snow with an integrating sphere, to measure the SSA of wet snow. We perform cold room experiments where we measure the SSA of a wet snow sample, freeze it and measure it again, to quantify the difference in reflectance between frozen and wet snow. We study snow samples in the SSA range 12–37 m2 kg−1 and in the mass liquid water content (LWC) range 5–32%. We conclude that the SSA of wet snow can be obtained from the measurement of its 1310 nm reflectance using three simple steps. In most cases, the SSA thus obtained is less than 10 {%} different from the value that would have been obtained if the sample had been considered dry, so that the three simple steps constitute a minor correction. We also run two optical models to interpret the results, but no model reproduces correctly the water–ice distribution in wet snow, so that their predictions of wet snow reflectance are imperfect. The correction on the determination of wet snow SSA using the DUFISSS instrument gives an overall uncertainty better than 11%, even if the LWC is unknown. If SSA is expressed as a surface to volume ratio (e.g., in mm−1), the uncertainty is then 13% because of additional uncertainties in the determination of the volume of ice and water when the LWC is unknown.

Citation: Gallet, J.-C., Domine, F., and Dumont, M.: Measuring the specific surface area of wet snow using 1310 nm reflectance, The Cryosphere, 8, 1139-1148,, 2014.
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