Bonneville Salt Flats

Apogee's SN-500 Net Radiometer was selected to help research the effect of changing surface albedos during flooding and desiccation cycles at the world-famous Bonneville Salt Flats. The SN-500 has performed excellently in this extreme environment since 2017 and the current readings are available by visiting One of the researchers, Dr. John Horel, describes more about the project below:

Bonneville Salt Flats Station

"The SN-500 was a critical addition to our weather station for a multidisciplinary study of the Bonneville Salt Flats in northern Utah (Craft and Horel 2019). The reduction in the depth of the salt layer during recent years has impacted the world-renowned speed racing events that happen during late summer on the Salt Flats."

Measuring Albedo  Station

"The salt surface may have surface albedo over 40% when dry, but the albedo can be reduced abruptly to less than 20% when flooded by thin sheets of water that are common from Fall through late Spring that help foster salt crystal growth. The SN-500 has helped us monitor albedo and short- and long-wave radiation components continuously and validate satellite estimates of the fractional coverage of surface water over the Salt Flats. The low maintenance needs of the sensor and stability of its output have been very useful for our research at this remote site."

Net Radiometer

SN-500  Salt Flats

Application Summary

Apogee Instruments' SN-500 Net Radiometer is used for a multidisciplinary study at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Apogee Sensors Used
Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah
Northern Utah
A weather station installed during September 2016 to study the Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF) in northern Utah provides estimates of surface albedo that can be related to cycles of flooding and desiccation of the halite surface. The normalized difference water index (NDWI) derived from MODIS MOD09A1 land surface reflectance product estimates the fractional coverage of surface water over the BSF. NDWI values computed over 8-day periods from 2000 to 2018 highlight year-to-year and seasonal variations in playa flooding events over the BSF. Periods of playa flooding were observed with both ground-based observations and NDWI with sharp reductions in albedo when the surface is flooded.