11.2 Graduate Field Courses at Storm Peak Laboratory – An Interdisciplinary Approach Combining Snow Hydrology and High Resolution Atmospheric Modeling

Wednesday, 22 August 2012: 10:30 AM
Priest Creek C (The Steamboat Grand)
Cassandra Hansen, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, NV; and A. G. Hallar, K. C. King, N. J. Nauslar, and M. Kaplan

During January 2009, graduate students from the University of Nevada, Reno designed, implemented, and executed an interdisciplinary research project during a ten day Mountain Meteorology field methods course located at a remote laboratory on Mt. Werner, CO (3155m). The research project included high resolution as well as synoptic scale numerical modeling, diurnal mountain and valley wind regime studies based on observations, and analyses of the thermal properties of the Steamboat Spring snowpack temperature gradient. Individual projects, field techniques and course goals were collectively focused in an effort to describe the atmospheric processes that affect snowpack characteristics. As an example of the high terrain environmental synthesis between teaching and research provided by this type of course, an array of seven thermocouples was assembled to record snowpack temperature from the surface to 20 cm below ground involving data collected continuously for two weeks. To better understand the interaction of atmospheric conditions and the thermodynamics within the snowpack, a heat flux plate at the snow surface simultaneously monitored the infrared spectrum capturing surface radiation and re-radiation of heat to and from the snowpack. Radiation measurements at the surface of the snowpack are intrinsically related to the absorption and emittance of radiation in the snowpack. Local Photosynthetic Active Radiation (PAR) was used to determine the amount of solar radiation received at the project location during the observation period. This project also employed the Operational Multi-scale Environment Model with Grid Adaptivity (OMEGA) to simulate the meso and synoptic scale atmosphere during the observational period from 8 January through 9 January. Results indicate that the diurnal temperature gradient of the snowpack adjusts to both localized and transient synoptic scale forcing. Localized near-surface thermodynamic conditions have a direct influence on the upper-most layer of the snowpack and these conditions are directly relatable to the local and larger scale weather conditions present at the time.
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