A new instrument for determining strength and temperature profiles in snowpack

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Engineering


The purpose of this thesis project was the development of a new field instrument for determining strength and temperature profiles in snowpack. The standard tool now used for strength determination is the ram penetrometer, which is slow, cumbersome, inaccurate, and does not provide immediate results. Temperatures are generally taken with a dial stem thermometer in a snowpit wall, which is difficult to do accurately at specific intervals. The Digital Thermo-Resistograph was designed and built in an attempt to improve field snowpack data collection. The Digital Thermo-Resistograph is a portable microprocessor-based data acquisition system for quick and accurate field collection of snowpack compressive strength and temperature data. This was accomplished by building a probe with a load cell and thermistor, a small snow platform for probe position information, and a Z-80 microprocessor-based data acquisition system. The system provides information in digital form for every sampled point. A 64 x 240 dot matrix LCD graphic display unit is used to show complete strength and temperature profiles in the field. Provision is made to transfer these profiles to paper via an ordinary X-Y recorder for a permanent record of field data. Sufficient memory for the storage of 25 profiles is provided. The results of winter 1984 field tests are presented. The thermistor could not be made- to work accurately, and so was not integrated into the system. The Digital Thermo-Resistograph proved to be fast and reliable in collecting compressive snow strength information, which is measured from 0.0 to 2.55 kg/sq cm at five mm increments through the snowpack. Comparisons with the ram penetrometer are shown. Ideas for future developments are discussed.





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