Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2017-174
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
21 Apr 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Measuring precipitation with a geolysimeter
Craig D. Smith1, Garth van der Kamp2, Lauren Arnold1, and Randy Schmidt2 1Environment and Climate Change Canada, Climate Research Division, Saskatoon, S7N 3H5, Canada
2Environment and Climate Change Canada, Watershed Hydrology and Ecology Research Division, Saskatoon, S7N 3H5, Canada
Abstract. Using the relationship between measured groundwater pressures in deep observation wells with total surface loading, a geological weighing lysimeter (geolysimeter) has the capability of measuring precipitation event totals independent of conventional precipitation gauge observations. Correlations between ground water pressure change and event precipitation were observed at a co-located site near Duck Lake, SK over a multi-year and multi-season period. Correlations varied from 0.99 for rainfall to 0.94 for snowfall. The geolysimeter was shown to underestimate rainfall by 7 % while overestimating snowfall by 9 % as compared to the unadjusted gauge precipitation. It is speculated that the underestimation of rainfall is due to unmeasured runoff and evapotranspiration within the sensing area of the geolysimeter during larger rainfall events while the overestimation of snow is at least partially due to the systematic undercatch common to most precipitation gauges due to wind. Using recently developed transfer functions from the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) Solid Precipitation Intercomparison Experiment (SPICE), bias adjustments were applied to the Alter shielded, Geonor T-200B precipitation gauge measurements of snowfall to mitigate wind induced errors. The bias between the gauge and geolysimeter measurements was reduced to 3 %. This suggests that the geolysimeter is capable of accurately measuring solid precipitation, and can be used as an independent and representative reference of true precipitation.

Citation: Smith, C. D., van der Kamp, G., Arnold, L., and Schmidt, R.: Measuring precipitation with a geolysimeter, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2017-174, in review, 2017.
Craig D. Smith et al.
Craig D. Smith et al.
Craig D. Smith et al.

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Short summary
This research provides an example of how groundwater pressures measured in deep observation wells can be used as a reliable estimate, and perhaps as a reference, for event based precipitation. Changes in loading at the surface due to the weight of precipitation are transferred to the groundwater formation and can be measured in the observation well. Correlations in precipitation measurements made with the geolysimeter and the co-located sheltered precipitation gauge are high.
This research provides an example of how groundwater pressures measured in deep observation...
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