The CRD measures naturally occurring incoming cosmic radiation. The cosmic rays are attenuated by the water content in the snow-pack which correlates to Snow Water Equivalent (SWE). The CRD allows SWE to be measured regardless of changing snow dynamics and formation ice layers.

A ground detector is installed flush with the soil and a reference detector is installed above the maximum snow height. The reference detector will correct for any moisture that is attenuated through the atmosphere as well as allows for change over space in the natural variation of incoming cosmic radiation.

The CRD is compatible with Campbell Scientific data loggers and operates of 12 V DC and solar panel power supply without the need for heating or fluid components. The most advantageous aspect of the CRD is its ability to read through complex snow layers from shallow to deep snow conditions.