An evaluation of research programs at the Central Sierra Snow Laboratory, 1945-1964

TitleAn evaluation of research programs at the Central Sierra Snow Laboratory, 1945-1964
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference1995
AuthorsMiller, D. H.
Conference Name63rd Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 63rd Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 1995
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationSparks, Nevada
KeywordsEvaluations, Research programs

Several public agencies took part in one or another of several cooperative programs investigating problems of the snow landscapes of the Sierra, and submitted their own problems of design and reservoir operation, river forecasting, and water and sediment yields. These problems were organized into a research program essentially centered on the fact that a snow landscape is the arena of interaction between water and energy; so the fluxes in these two physical budgets outlined our task. Of the three field basins active in the Cooperative Snow Investigations, the Central Sierra Snow Laboratory (CSSL) had the most detailed field observations; and in the later Snow Management program (FS), CSSL was the site of half of the research projects in the Sierra snow zone; it was the basin with which I grew most familiar.Field observations and data analyses emphasized heat supply, characteristics of the surface of the snow, water transmission through the deeper layers, and stream flow; techniques for hydrograph reconstitution for Castle Creek were validated in operational basins like the Yuba and Kootenai Rivers. In the second program at CSSL, detailed measurements of the forest environment of each snow course gave data for analyzing the separate effects of trees on shortwave radiation, longwave radiation, shelter, and wind transport.It is interesting that the intellectual curiosity of a university professor ninety years ago led to research that produced notable scientific findings about snow cover, and to physically sound operational techniques for design floods, flood forecasting, and managing the public domain. I feel privileged to have been a part of these major research programs in the physics of this complex mountain landscape, and now appreciate the invitation to evaluate these programs from the viewpoint of my subsequent scientific career.