Arctic Space Centre and Sodankylä Space Campus, News

Best practices for automatic solid precipitation, snow depth and snow water equivalent measurements

WMO Solid Precipitation Intercomparison Experiment (SPICE) test site in Sodankylä

Results of the internationally coordinated Solid Precipitation Intercomparison Experiment (SPICE) project, initiated and guided by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) are now available. Field experiments were conducted at twenty sites located in fifteen countries, on all continents except Africa and Antarctica. Arctic Space Centre (FMI-ARC) in Sodankylä hosted SPICE tests, contributed with instruments, and was engaged in the data analysis and the derivation of results.

The main objective of SPICE was to provide guidance for automatic solid precipitation, snow depth and snow water equivalent measurements and related data aspects. The experiment compared automated instrumentation for snowfall and snow on the ground measurements at different environmental conditions in 2012-2015. The Sodankylä SPICE site concentrated on snow depth and snow water equivalent measurements in addition to solid precipitation measurements. Conclusions and recommendations are presented in the final report, which was published in the end of 2018.

One of the objectives in Sodankylä was to assess the performance of automated instruments that measure snow water equivalent and make recommendations on the best measurement practices and data interpretation. The Campbell Scientific CS725 and the Sommer SSG100 for measuring SWE were assessed. It was found, that different measurement principles of the instruments, as well as the site characteristics influence the way the SWE data should be interpreted.

More information:

Anna Kontu

Timo Laine

Leena Leppänen

Final report available at:

Project www-pages:

Inter-Journal Special issue: “WMO-SPICE and its applications”, published in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences and other relevant journals of the European Geosciences Union:

Smith, C. D., Kontu, A., Laffin, R., and Pomeroy, J. W.: An assessment of two automated snow water equivalent instruments during the WMO Solid Precipitation Intercomparison Experiment, The Cryosphere, 11, 101-116,, 2017.

Leave a Reply

Theme by Anders Norén