Integrated Solution for Snow Monitoring, Runoff and Hydropower Forecast


We are using In-Situ Snow Monitoring, Earth Observation and Model Techniques as innovative solution for the assessment of snow cover, the amount of water stored in it, its potential for energy production and the related risk of flood events.

Our Solution provides:

  • Detailed and up-to-data knowledge about the water stored as snow
  • Run-off and reservoir status of a catchment, for all locations and time steps – including forecast options
  • End-to-end service chains in all regions
  • Design for remote or mountainous regions
  • Modularity to enhance existing solutions

We are addressing:

  • Hydropower Producers and Traders
  • Flood Forecasting and Public Safety Authorities
  • Environmental Monitoring and Scientific Institutes
  • Meteorology and Hydro-Industry Partners

Example products from the operational Service Demo for the Island of Newfoundland / Canada within in the ESA IAP Demo Project

  • SWE maps based on in-situ sensor, EO and model integration
  • River-Runoff at selected locations
  • Water stored as snow within catchment areas (historical data from winter season 2016/2017)

SnowSense as a Service

  • Provision of  daily or weekly maps of the SWE as raster data product or online map

  • Provision of the amout of water stored as snow for selectable locations

  • Runoff formation calculation incl. lakes and reservoirs

  • Up to 12 days forecast period

  • Tailored products available

SnowSense Unique Features 

  • Novell GNSS based measurements of the SWE and the LWC

  • Independent satellite communication and power supply for global application

  • Spatial calculation of all water balance and runoff components

  • Independency from meteorological stations

  • Assimilation of measured SWE at stations and satellite observations of the spatial snow dynamics

Water stored as snow (blue) and resulting runoff (black line) for demo sub-catchment (15.000 km2) of the Exploits River 2016/2017 in Newfoundland

The key element of SnowSense is the capability to measure the snow water equivalent (SWE) at all requested locations by an novel, superioir, GNSS based solution. The SWE [mm] can be retrieved in continously (requiring permanent power supply) or on a daily basis (common for hydrological users) using energy-efficient measurement cycles. All stations are pre-processing the data and transfer the measurements via satellite communication infrastructure, and can be set up permanently or temporally, e.g. be removed during summer months. Station hardware is modular and easy to be transported and installed. Set up for multiple stations for a spatial measurement networks is advisable.

  • Derivation of the water stored as snow (SWE) and the liquid water content (LWC) in the snow
  • 2-GNSS-antenna concept with fixed, maintenance free installation below and above the snow cover
  • Microwave L-Band signals with excellent attributes for snow monitoring globally availably from GNSS satellites
  • Proven results from scientific studies and demo operations in Europe and North America for several years
  • Method and station are patent pending
  • Weather independent and maintenance free operation also during low sun or cloud conditions
  • Independent power supply and intelligent operation management
  • On-board processing and satellite or terrestrial based communication
  • Light weight system ( <20 kg) for easy transportation and installation
  • Low-cost hardware & data transfer

To provide spatial and temporal continuous information on the snow cover, the water balance is calculated using meteorological inputs and the parameters of the land surface by a physically model (PROMET). Meteo model inputs / NWPs enable weather station independent calculations and forecasts. The direct snow measurements from the stations and satellite derived spatial snow information are assimilated for exact and reliable results. Calculation of the run-off and aggregated products of hydro-power potential and forecast is optional.
Due to the transferable concept of the stations and the model, all catchments and regions can be monitored and provide large flexibility in performance and products

PROMET – Processes of Mass and Energy Transfer

  • Physically model, regional transferable
  • Long term development of the LMU Munich and VISTA (> 20 yr.)
  • Applied from local to global scale
  • Meteo station or model data/forecast as driver
  • Integration of online in-situ station snow measurements and satellite observations
  • Hourly calculations
  • Forecasts and scenarios
  • Dedicated options for Hydropower

Satellite Monitoring of the snow cover as operational tool for spatial and up-to-date information

  • Up to daily space observations of the land surface is provided by the European Commission (EC) and the European Space Agency (ESA)
  • Currently two microwave (S1A/B) and high resolution optical (S2A/B) satellites in operation to allow frequent and  observations of large areas
  • large number of medium resolution satellites  additionally available
      • Sentinel-1 is an weather independent active observing system, enabling detection of the snow cover and its status (wet / dry) also during night or cloudy conditions
      • Sentinel-2 is using optical sensors to derive snow and land surface information during cloud free conditions
      • VISTA has long year experience in operational satellite data processing and is running a number of services using Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 data
      • Long year services using NOAA/AVHRR, METOP and MODIS applied
      • Platform and cloud computing solutions are used to provide fast and reliable information retrieval


SnowSense Station Product Sheet

SnowSense Service Product Sheet

SnowSense Presentation at SnowHydro 2018



ANavS – Advanced Navigation Solutions GmbH

our development and hardware partner in Munich, Germany



our distribution partner in Bratislava, Slovak Republic



Snow water equivalent of dry snow derived from GNSS carrier phases

Patrick Henkel, Franziska Koch, Florian Appel, Heike Bach, Monika Prasch, Lino Schmid, Jürg Schweizer and Wolfram Mauser



Advances in Snow Hydrology Using a Combined Approach of GNSS In Situ Stations, Hydrological Modelling and Earth Observation - A Case Study in Canada

Florian Appel, Franziska Koch, Anja Rösel, Philipp Klug, Patrick Henkel, Markus Lamm, Wolfram Mauser and Heike Bach

Geoscience - Special Issue Remote Sensing of Snow and its Applications


Sucess Stories, Users and Customers