Prior microwave measurements of snow water equivalent and liquid water content and conceptualizations of emission and backscattering models are reviewed. The results of an experiment designed to collect simultaneous passive and active microwave data to be used in interpreting and analyzing the sensitivity of the microwave spectrum to changing snowpack properties are reported. Both the scattering coefficient, σ°, and the apparent radiometric temperature, Tap, were found to be sensitive to changes in snow water equivalent and liquid water content. The σ° data exhibit an exponential-like increase with increasing water equivalent, whereas, the Tap data exhibit an exponential-like decrease. For both the active and passive data, the snow water equivalent at which the microwave response begins to saturate decreases as the wavelength decreases. Increasing liquid water in the snowpack causes a decrease in σ° and an increase in the Tap. Diurnal data sets show the greatest σ° and Tap variation in response to snowmelt at 35 and 37 GHz with correspondingly less variation at the lower frequencies. Based on research results to date, immediate formulation of a comprehensive microwave and snow research program is recommended.

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