Science Spotlight

Station P360

Researcher: Felipe Nievinski
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul

P360 during and after the snow season.

State: ID
Country: United States
Elevation: 1857.9 m
Lat/Long:  44.3179 / -111.4507

Snow Measurements in Idaho

P360 was installed for the purpose of studying crustal deformation in the western U.S, particularly changes associated with Yellowstone Volcano. P360 is located in an open grasslands field where snow is relatively uniform. In 2009 the PBO H2O group began using the GPS data from this site to test whether it could be used to measure snow depth. In 2011 a camera was installed to take pictures of a marked pole near the GPS antenna. Reading these photographs records the amount of snow accumulated on the ground near the GPS antenna (see the movie).

In Figure 1 we show GPS estimates of snow depth at P360 for four water-years. In North America the water-year is the period from October 1st through September 30th of the following year. Note the dramatic variations in snow depth at P360. Although the snow season begins consistently in the second half of November, the end of the season is quite different, deviating by 15-30 days from year to year. The 2011 Water Year was a huge snow year in the western U.S., and this was clearly the case at P360 as well.
The University of Colorado and UNAVCO installed a camera in Fall 2011 to help validate the GPS snow depth method. Each day a photo is taken of a pole near the GPS antenna. The data from 2011-2012 have been compiled into a movie.

Figure 1. Snow depth at P360 for 2009 to the present. Data are downloaded once per day by UNAVCO and analyzed by the PBO H2O group .


Figure 2. Collecting "ground truth" data.

Spotlight Questions

  • In the U.S. national SNOTEL network, the closest station to P360 is Island Park. Compare the snow depth measurements of P360 and Island Park. How well do they agree? Should they agree?

Last modified: 2019-12-26  16:24:52  America/Denver  


Please send comments and corrections to

Copyright © 2012 - 2022 UNAVCO and the GPS Reflections Research Group.
All Rights Reserved.

Funding and Acknowledgements.