Ensemble mean density and its connection to other microphysical properties of falling snow

Activity: Examination typesSupervision of other thesis (Master's, Licentiate)


Naturally occurring snowflakes represent a variety of shapes, sizes, fall velocities and degrees of riming, which makes their representation challenging in numerical models and remote sensing retrievals. In this study measurements collected during winters 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 at the University of Helsinki measurement station in Hyytiälä are used to investigate connections between ensemble mean snow density, particle fall velocity and parameters of the particle size distribution (PSD). A new generation video imager, the Particle Imaging Package (PIP), was employed for this
study. The simple open structure, robust design, easy maintenance and low cost of the instrument make it attractive for studying winter precipitation microphysics. The density of snow is derived from measurements of particle fall velocity and PSD, provided by the PIP, and weighing gauge measurements of liquid water equivalent precipitation rate. Validity of the retrieved density values is checked against snow depth measurements. The results show that a single camera video imager such as the PIP can succesfully be utilized for such studies. A relation retrieved for the ensemble mean snow density and median volume diameter is in general agreement with previous studies, but it is observed to vary significantly from one winter to the other. From these observations, characteristic mass-dimensional relations of snow are retrieved. For snow rates more than 0.2 mmh−1, a correlation between the intercept parameter of normalized gamma PSD and median volume diameter was observed.
ExamineeJussi Tiira
Examination held at
  • University of Helsinki