The SWSL has multiple workstations and tremendous facilities for conduction electronics and sensor design research. The lab is strongly equipped with innovative sensors for the mapping and diagnoses of land surface processes during snow and snowfree seasons. Those sensors include UAV and terrestrial LiDAR, Multispectral, Hyperspectral, Optical, Thermal and IR cameras, Field spectrometer and traditional survey equipment.

Main Room

Available Equipment

3 Permanaent workstations (Students, Researchers and Scientists)

Leica base stations 

Cansel Total Station

Novatel Base station (roof mounted continuous operation)

Optech Ilris Terrestrial Scanner (tripod mounted)

Stratasys 3d Printer and portable 3d scanners

Epic Environmental Chamber

Custom Computer and Server systems 

Portable diagnostic electronics station

Typical electronics lab equipment for creation of PCB's

Reflow Oven and Stencil printer

Virtual Reality (VR) devices

Key Areas of Research

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

A number of UAVs are available for mapping of landscapes during the snow-covered and snow-free seasons.  The UAVs owned and operated by the SWSL are deployed at field sites in the Prairies and Rocky Mountains.  UAV platforms manufactured and configured by DJI International, Sensefly, and DraganFly are available for use in research projects.  

SWSL Drones and Associated Sensors

DJI  M600 Pro / Riegl Mini Vux-1, Sony RGB  (905nm, 380nm-740nm)

DJI  M600 Pro / Corning Hyperspectral Camera (400nm – 1000nm)

eBee RTK / Soda  (380nm-740nm)

eBee + / Thermo Map, Sequoia (7.5µm – 12.5µm,  G-550nm R-660nm RE-735nm NIR 790nm)

eBee X / 3D Soda, Duet T and S110 NIR (380nm-740nm, 7.5µm – 12.5µm, G-550nm R-625nm NIR- 850nm)

Draganfly Commander / RGB, FLIR (380nm-740nm, 7.5µm – 12.5µm)

Drone in the field
Photo Credit: Alistair Wallace

Sensors and Systems

SWSL designs, develops and tests sensors and systems that measure all components of the hydrological cycle.  The sensors are self-calibrating with onboard signal processing for in-field feedback and rapid data availability.  Sensors are equipped with network interfaces such as WiFi and LoRa.  SWSL research is focussed on the use of active and passive technologies involving acoustics, electromagnetic waves, visible and near-infrared cameras as well as LIDAR and GPS.

SWSL personnel are interested in how novel devices can be used to provide data inputs to mathematical models of climate change, drought, snowmelt, and flooding.  These models can provide predictions and forecasts useful for agriculture, natural resources and ecosystem protection.  To ensure that the research is reproducible for maximum applicability, all source code, data, and ancillary information scientific papers written for the SWSL will be available for download from a github repository.

Self-calibration of sensors, network connectivity and in-field availability of data are major aspects of our system development philosophy.  This philosophy is supported by embedded operating systems and wireless networks.

Field Installation
Photo Credit: Robin Heavens

Sensors in Development

The System for Acoustic Sensing of Snow (Chione, as shown below) measures snow depth, density, liquid water content and temperature by the use of acoustic waves.


The Non-Contact Stream Sensor (NCSS) measures the distance to a stream by the use of multiple ultrasonic transducers without the use of air temperature measurements. The Self-Calibrating Heat Pulse Probe (SCHEPP) measures the liquid water/ice content and density of soils without the need for calibration of probe spacing radius. The Automated Gas Trap (AGT) measures gas flux (ebullition) from lakes and reservoirs using an electronic circuit and a automated solenoid valve.



Core Research Personnel (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)

Research Associates

Laboratory Management

Graduate Students

Field Support Staff (Canmore, Alberta)

Research Code

Clone github repos @smartwaterlab