CUNY-Snow Analysis and Field Experiment

Welcome to CUNY-SAFE Website

The CUNY Snow Analysis and Field Experiment (CUNY-SAFE) has been conducted every winter season since 2010. The field experiment site is located at 46°52'00.9"N and 68°00'47.9"W on the grounds of Caribou Municipal Airport and the National Weather Service office in Caribou, ME. With a humid continental climate, Caribou offers ideal conditions for snow studies. The average seasonal snowfall in Caribou is approximately 116 inches (2.9 m), and the record snowfall of 197.8 inches (5.02 m) was set during the winter of 2007-2008.

Field observation data include synoptic/meteorological parameters, radiation fluxes, and measured microwave emission (brightness temperature) at 10, 19, 37, and 89 GHz for both vertical and horizontal polarization. In addition to dual-polarized microwave radiometers, the field experiment site is equipped with a gamma radiation sensor (for measuring Snow Water Equivalent), a CIMEL Sunphotometer, an ultrasonic snow depth sensor, an infrared thermometer (for snow skin temperature), net radiation sensors, humidity and temperature sensors, a snow temperature profiler (measuring temperature at every 5 cm of snow layer), snow grain size and density measurements, and a network camera for real-time remote monitoring of the site.

This research focuses on improving the understanding of how microwave radiation interacts with snow, including absorption and scattering processes, as well as investigating time series analysis of microwave brightness temperature for snow-covered terrain throughout the winter season. The project aims to develop new algorithms and validate existing ones (CRTM and HUT) for snow cover and snow water equivalent estimation, while also creating techniques for precise snow depth and moisture assessment using microwave radiometry.

The study examines the impact of snow moisture on microwave emissions, considering potential differences between wet and dry snow, and analyzes microwave data for three distinct snowpack stages to comprehend seasonal property changes: early and mid-winter, spring (melt-freeze period), and melting period. Snowpack physical properties are simulated using snow physics models, such as SNTHERM, to investigate the viability of employing microwave radiometry for remote snow property sensing in areas where on-site measurements are impractical.

As part of the project's objectives, innovative satellite-based snow property retrieval methods and advanced satellite-based snow retrieval techniques are being developed. Additionally, the research provides valuable hands-on field work training for undergraduate and graduate students, while also evaluating newly developed instruments in the field of snow research, promoting a better understanding of snow properties and their impact on the environment.