Distributed Temperatures in the Snow Zone: Spatial Patterns and Innovative Measurement Techniques

TitleDistributed Temperatures in the Snow Zone: Spatial Patterns and Innovative Measurement Techniques
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2007
AuthorsLundquist, J. D., and Rochford C.
Conference Name75th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 75th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 2007
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationKailua-Kona, HI
KeywordsYosemite National Park, temperature, lapse rate, EOF, spatial temperature patterns

Mountains are spatially complex and sparsely sampled. Temperatures are usually interpolated from distant stations assuming a standard atmospheric lapse rate (decrease of 6.5°C per 1000 m elevation gain). However, examination of observed surface temperatures indicates that temperature patterns differ diurnally, synoptically, and seasonally and do not always increase linearly with elevation. Fortunately, new technology has become available to monitor temperature in remote locations, such as the Onset Hobo and the Maxim i-button. Approximately 200 of these self-recording sensors have been deployed in Yosemite National Park, California and Niwot Ridge and Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado over the past several years. Empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) are used to identify the dominant spatial temperature patterns within each study area and how they vary in time. Comparison between study sites allows for generalizations of temperature patterns across space (mapping spatial patterns using topography) and time (mapping temporal variations using large-scale weather parameters), which can be utilized in more sparsely sampled areas. Experimentation with such a large number of sensors also illuminates how to best deploy these small instruments to sample topographically-controlled, versus vegetation-controlled, versus radiation-controlled, temperatures.