Preparing to measure snow with candidate Explorer CoReH2O
Scientists from Europe and the US met in the Alps this summer to discuss progress on campaign activities in support of the candidate CoReH2O mission. Currently under assessment, this mission aims to improve our understanding of the role that snow and ice play in water and energy cycles.
The first campaign, called SARAlps2007, was carried out earlier this year and entailed an active Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instrument being attached to a 'cherry picker', which allowed snow conditions to be observed over time. The campaign was carried out in a number of test sites over a three-month period.
Following the success of the initial campaign, a second set of campaign activities is scheduled for next winter when the measurements will be repeated – but from the air. This time the instrument will be mounted on a helicopter and cover a wide range of different snow and ice areas; thus extending the database to derive more precise retrieval algorithms for the potential future Earth Explorer CoReH2O satellite mission.
Scientists meeting this summer in Innsbruck, Austria discussed the status and progress of the related science studies and data collected so far in the field campaigns in Europe and the US, as well as plans and requirements for future field experiments. The coming together of scientists from around the world to further the development of the mission concept also demonstrates international cooperation from US scientists. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are participating with the development of a common set of algorithms and data exchange from US initiated campaigns in Colorado and Alaska.
The CoReH2O mission concept aims to improve the forecasting of water supply from snow cover and glaciers and, in general, supports the modelling of water and energy cycles at high latitudes. As predictions for global warming includes high variability in precipitation for different regions, the CoReH2O data will be of great value in monitoring climate change in cold regions. The mission concept employs twin frequency Synthetic Aperture Radars (9.6 and 17.2 GHz) in two consecutive mission phases to deliver all-weather, year-round information on regional and continental-scale snow extent and water content.