The optical system of the snow-particle counter (SPC), which was developed by Schmidt in 1977, has been improved. A laser diode is used as a light source, achieving uniform sensitivity to a blowing snow particle regardless of the location of particle trajectory within a sampling volume. The light entering a slit, which may be affected by a blowing snow particle, is perfectly detected by use of a piano-cylindrical lens and a dual-type photodiode. A signal processor has been developed to get output voltage proportional to the mass flux of blowing snow.
From the estimates based on blowing snow characteristics and wind speed profile, the new SPC system can accurately detect all the particles of effective sizes at least at a height above 0.1 m when the wind speed at a height of 1 m is less than 15 m s−1.
Considering the Fraunhofer diffraction by both the wire and the particle, the relation between a particle diameter and sensor output of the new SPC system is derived from the calibration with spinning wires.
Mass flux obtained with the new SPC system was found to be close to that with a snow trap. The system was operated continuously for at least nine days using two 35 A h lead batteries.