Measuring precipitation with a geolysimeter
- 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 and total surface loading, a geological weighing lysimeter (geolysimeter) has the capability of measuring precipitation event totals independently of conventional precipitation gauge observations. Correlations between groundwater pressure change and event precipitation were observed at a co-located site near Duck Lake, SK, over a multi-year and multi-season period. Correlation coefficients (r2) 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 run-off and evapotranspiration within the response 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.