Digging a snow pit

Lab Note #7
Jan 21, 2014

We call collecting snow samples "digging a snow pit". I'll describe here how this is done.

The image below shows an area that I dug out for collecting snow samples last week. The dug out area is where we stand (or kneel) while collecting samples. The snow depth at the field site varies from about 10-20 cm (4-8 inches).

The two images below show the "snow pit" after sampling the top 1 cm of snow.

The image below shows how we sample the snow (with a spatula). The samples are put in plastic bags, which are then transported back to the lab in Utah for further processing (more on that at a later date).

The image below shows a finished snowpit. We stop digging when the grass starts to stick up through the snow and gets in the way of sampling. You can see that we needed to collect snow from a smaller area deeper in the snow, because the density of the snow was greater at depth than at the surface.

We collect snow at 1 cm intervals throughout the depth of the snowpit so that we a good idea of how things change with depth. We collect enough snow at each depth interval for a variety of measurements that I will explain in later posts. The plan is to dig a snow pit approximately every other day during the field campaign (about 3 per week).

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