Event Title

Spatial Variability of Snowpack in an Alpine Environment

Location

Parker-Reed, SSWAC

Start Date

30-4-2015 11:00 AM

End Date

30-4-2015 1:55 PM

Project Type

Poster- Restricted to Campus Access

Description

The structure and stability of snowpack can vary significantly depending on a slopes aspect and elevation. Burnt Mountain, east of the Sugarloaf ski resort, provides an optimal location to observe the effects of wind, temperature and solar radiation on snowpack variability. Snowpits were dug at three locations with varied elevations and aspect to study the continued metamorphism of the snow throughout the winter. The continued cold temperatures and consistent snowfall during January and February 2015 led to temperature gradient metamorphism and the development of many faceted layers at depth, weak layers of snow that are avalanche hazards. The prevailing winds out of the north-northwest were the prominent snow transfer mechanism that affected snow depths. These winds transfer snow from the north facing windward aspect of the slope, and deposit it onto the south-facing leeward side. Despite the presence of persistant weak layers (facets) at depths, as well as slab surfaces, the overall slope of Burnt Mountain is apparently too shallow for avalanches to be triggered except in extremely abnormal conditions.

Sponsoring Department

Colby College. Geology Dept.

CLAS Field of Study

Natural Sciences

Event Website

http://www.colby.edu/clas

ID

1531

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Apr 30th, 11:00 AM Apr 30th, 1:55 PM

Spatial Variability of Snowpack in an Alpine Environment

Parker-Reed, SSWAC

The structure and stability of snowpack can vary significantly depending on a slopes aspect and elevation. Burnt Mountain, east of the Sugarloaf ski resort, provides an optimal location to observe the effects of wind, temperature and solar radiation on snowpack variability. Snowpits were dug at three locations with varied elevations and aspect to study the continued metamorphism of the snow throughout the winter. The continued cold temperatures and consistent snowfall during January and February 2015 led to temperature gradient metamorphism and the development of many faceted layers at depth, weak layers of snow that are avalanche hazards. The prevailing winds out of the north-northwest were the prominent snow transfer mechanism that affected snow depths. These winds transfer snow from the north facing windward aspect of the slope, and deposit it onto the south-facing leeward side. Despite the presence of persistant weak layers (facets) at depths, as well as slab surfaces, the overall slope of Burnt Mountain is apparently too shallow for avalanches to be triggered except in extremely abnormal conditions.

http://digitalcommons.colby.edu/clas/2015/program/62