GNSS-R with Low-Cost Receivers for Retrieval of Antenna Height from Snow Surfaces Using Single-Frequency Observations

Sensors (Basel). 2019 Dec 14;19(24):5536. doi: 10.3390/s19245536.


Snowpack is an important fresh water storage; the retrieval of snow water equivalents from satellite data permits to estimate potentially available water amounts which is an essential parameter in water management plans running in several application fields (e.g., basic needs, hydroelectric, agriculture, hazard and risk monitoring, climate change studies). The possibility to assess snowpack height from Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) observations by means of the GNSS reflectometry technique (GNSS-R) has been shown by several studies. However, in general, studies are being conducted using observations collected by continuously operating reference stations (CORS) built for geodetic purposes and equipped with geodetic-grade instruments. Moreover, CORS are located on sites selected according to criteria different from those more suitable for snowpack studies. In this work, beside an overview of key elements of GNSS reflectometry, single-frequency GNSS observations collected by u-blox M8T GNSS receivers and patch antennas from u-blox and Tallysman have been considered for the determination of antenna height from the snowpack surface on a selected test site. Results demonstrate the feasibility of GNSS-R even with non-geodetic-grade instruments, opening the way towards diffuse GNSS-R targeted applications.

Keywords: GNSS reflectometry; GNSS single-frequency signals; low-cost GNSS receivers; snowpack characterization.