12.3 Teaching Wintertime Mountain Meteorology in The Mountains: An Experiential Learning Field Course in Colorado's San Juan Mountains

Friday, 17 July 2020: 11:45 AM
Virtual Meeting Room
Brandon Vogt, University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS), Colorado Springs, CO; and J. Derry

Handout (3.6 MB)

Since the 1970s, undergraduate and graduate students have gathered in Silverton, Colorado, elevation 2840 m (9318 ft), in the winter months to learn from university faculty and local practitioners about mountain meteorology, snow science, atmospheric and environmental data collection and monitoring, and fine-scale atmospheric research methodologies. A Silverton-based non-profit, the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies (CSAS), has been central in facilitating and educating student groups in atmospheric and interdisciplinary sciences since 2002. The goal of this paper is to share with the mountain meteorology community a highly structured experiential learning-focused field course curriculum and format that immerses students into the complexities of wintertime atmosphere / snowpack / landscape interactions. Utilizing remote temperature data loggers and a suite of snowpack measurement instruments, learning modules center on the monitoring and mapping of cold air drainage / valley inversion regimes. The students take from the course a vast environmental dataset, new research questions, and new knowledge of relationships between the mountain atmosphere, microclimate, microtopography, snowpack properties, and snowpack energy fluxes.
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