Neutron detector helps predict the impacts of snow melt

Categorie(s) : Innovation & Society, News, Research

Published : 7 June 2017

LPSC* developed a neutron detector for French electric utility EDF to measure the snow water equivalent (SWE), or the amount of water in snowpack. The neutrons, which reach the Earth’s surface in varying quantities depending on altitude and pressure, react with the water they pass through (they are slowed down or, in some cases, even completely absorbed). The number of neutrons that reach a sensor on the ground can be used to determine the amount of water above the sensor, regardless of how dense the snowpack is. A total of 40 of the sensors have been implemented at strategic points on specific drainage basins in France’s main mountain ranges to determine the amount of snow melt water that will reach dams in the spring. A prototype new-generation sensor, which would cost less to produce, is currently being tested in the lab.

*Subatomic Physics and Cosmology Laboratory


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