Geographic variation in snow temperature gradients in a mountain snowpack

TitleGeographic variation in snow temperature gradients in a mountain snowpack
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2002
AuthorsDeems, J. S., Kirkeland K. W., and Hansen K. J.
Conference Name70th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 70th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedMay 2002
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationGranby, Colorado
KeywordsTopography, Temperature gradient pattern, Temperature profile, DEM

The objective of this study was to investigate the relative importance of topography in controlling the geographic patterns of snow temperature gradients within a seasonal snowpack. Regression models quantified relationships between topographic parameters and temperature gradient statistics for our spatially distributed dataset. Demonstration of the relative importance of topography in influencing spatial snowpack temperature gradients could aid future modeling of snow layer development and behavior, with benefits for avalanche and snowmelt modeling. This spatial, or geographic, analysis of the relationship of snow temperature gradient patterns to topography, utilizes landscape-scale modeling in an attempt to identify responses in complex, mountainous terrain.During the snow season of 2001-2002, 30 temperature profiles were sampled on nine sample days. Profileswere collected through the use of a portable snow temperature profile probe (Deems, 2001). These data were used to calculate temperature gradients for each profile. Topographic attributes were derived using a GeographicInformation System (GIS) and a Digital Elevation Model (DEM). Linear regression assessed the relationshipbetween the topographic variables and snow temperature gradient patterns, and demonstrates the relative importance of the terrain variables in determining spatial patterns of temperature gradients. Analysis of the regression models shows a complex pattern of relationships between average temperature gradients and topographic variables. A qualitative assessment of weather variables suggests the utility of weather data in future modeling efforts.