OTT Pluvio² L in Use for a Research Project in Antarctica

The  OTT Pluvio² series weighs collected precipitation and records the data. The series has been selected by numerous national weather services in countries in the northern hemisphere as the standard instrument for liquid and solid precipitation monitoring. 

Because of its advantages, the OTT Pluvio² series was particularly well suited for deployment at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica. 

Quantifying Snowfall

At McMurdo Station, researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder and the National Center for Atmospheric Research are investigating methods to measure the accumulating snowfall in the harsh Antarctic environment.

These measurements are important to better understand the potential for sea level rise in the future due to climate change. Measuring snowfall in the Antarctic environment is particularly challenging because it's difficult to distinguish between falling snow and blowing snow.

The researchers, funded by the National Science Foundation which is responsible for the U.S. Antarctic Program, are meeting this challenge through the use of a specially-designed APS (Antarctic Precipitation System).

Four APS stations have been set up in Antarctica in a project lasting two years.

Monitoring Solution

"We want to demonstrate that we now have the capability to measure the really small amounts of snow that accumulate from event to event in the Antarctic environment," explained Scott Landolt, Associate Scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

To help achieve the research objectives, the team has deployed snowfall collection instruments including a particle size measurement sensor and an elevated (~ 3.5 meters above the ground) and wind screen-protected OTT Pluvio² precipitation gauge.

The height of the precipitation gauge above ground helps it to avoid measuring some of the blowing snow. The wind screen helps to slow the wind and improve the snowfall collection capabilities of the gauge. The sensor suite also includes additional weather measurements including temperature, wind speed, and accumulating snow height.

A day and night webcam is used to monitor the sensors. A nearby Antarctic Weather Station (AWS) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison serves as a backup for some of these measurements.

In total, four APS sensor suites are now deployed, which will run for two years:

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