New Snow Density Across an Elevational Gradient in the Park Range of Northwestern Colorado

TitleNew Snow Density Across an Elevational Gradient in the Park Range of Northwestern Colorado
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2006
AuthorsSimeral, D. B., Borys R. D., and Wetzel M. A.
Conference Name74th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 74th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 2006
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationLas Cruces, NM
KeywordsNew snow density, spatial variability, Colorado, snow crystal, riming, 700 millibar temperature

A study was conducted to examine the spatial variability of new snow density across an elevational gradient on the windward side of a mountain. The field campaign took place in February, 2005 at the Storm Peak Laboratory in northwestern Colorado. Snow sampling and in-situ meteorological measurements were conducted along an elevational gradient at five sites ranging in elevation from 2200 m to 3244 m above MSL. Snow was intermittently sampled during snow events from snow boards. Meteorological measurements of air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and direction were continuously logged at five minute intervals throughout the month. In addition, supplemental observations of snow crystal habit, size, and degree of riming were noted at each sampling visitation. Results showed observed mean new snow densities ranged from 83 kg m-³ to 101 kg m-³ with the lowest mean densities found at 2200 m and 2771 m. Individual densities measurements ranged from 26 kg m-³ to 188 kg m-³. The results of correlation analysis indicated a direct relationship between new snow density and several explanatory meteorological variables, such as, approximated 700 millibar temperature (0.74), lifted condensation level air temperature (0.59), wind speed (0.55), and surface air temperature (0.55). Linear regression analysis utilizing the best single predictor variable (~700 millibar level air temperature) resulted in an R² = 0.54.