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Flights and Sites

Field sites (Year 1)

Identification of the field sites for SnowEx Year 1 has now been finalized.  The site selected is Grand Mesa, in Colorado, with targeted observations at the Senator Beck, resources permitting. This site was found to most closely meet the multisensor and forest objectives of year one.  The trade study summary for site selection considered a number of requirements including: sufficient forested stands to have a range of density and height (and other forest conditions); a range of snow depth/SWE conditions; sufficiently flat snow-covered terrain of a size comparable to airborne instrument swath widths; existing/ongoing snow observations; and other requirements related to logistical considerations. In addition, to ensure the multi-sensor objectives of the campaign are met, we also need snow that is intermediate in depth/SWE, and that has a low risk of being wet prior to melt season (wet snow interferes with the microwave techniques).

The site decision was primarily based on the recommendation from the most recent NASA iSWGR community workshop, which was held in Seattle on March 29-31, 2016, where a short list of potential sites for SnowEx Year 1 evolved.  The 'top three' geographic domains are western Colorado (multiple specific sites), eastern Sierra Nevada in California (multiple specific sites), and the eastern Canadian Rockies (Canadian Rockies Hydrological Observatory, CRHO).  The Grand Mesa site meets all these requirements, while the other sites raised some concerns such as wet snow,  deep snow beyond the saturation limits of the active and passive microwave techniques, lack of dependable snow  cover, and the suitability of existing snow observations. For additional details, see the site selection memo.

Sites that were considered:

Site information coordinators Noah Molotch and Chris Crawford received and processed information on a wide variety of potential sites and organized the information into the following database:

 

Table 1. Current SnowEx candidate sites for the eastern United States (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Michigan)

SnowEx Site Criteria

Maine

 

New Hampshire

 

Mass.

Mich.

Logistics/Airborne Campaign Feasibility

Caribou / NOAA-Crest

Howland Forest

Bartlett Forest

Hubbard Brook Exp. Forest

Harvard Forest

UMBS

1. Aviation Restrictions (No/Yes)

No

No

No

No

No

No

2. Airbase Operations (NASA / Commercial)

Com

NASA/Com

NASA/Com

NASA/Com

NASA/Com

NASA/Com

3. Power Source for Field Instrumentation (No/Yes)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

?

Yes

4. Field Crew Accessible (Easy/Moderate/Difficult)

Easy

Easy/Mod

Mod/Dif

Mod/Dif

Easy/Mod

Easy

5. Housing / Amenities (Number of People)

Yes (nearby off-site)

Yes (nearby off-site)

~25 (on-site)

~14 (on-site)

Yes (nearby off-site)

50+ on-site

6. Proximity to Major Airport (Distance)

within 25 miles

within 50 miles

within 100 miles

within 100 miles

within 75 miles

within 250 miles

Experimental Design/Measurements/Science Requirements

1. Sturm et al. Snow Classes

Maritime

Maritime

Maritime

Maritime

Maritime

Warm Forest

2. Snow Type (Primary/Secondary)

Wet/Dry

Wet/Dry

Wet/Dry

Wet /Dry

Wet/Dry

Dry/Wet

3. Prior Field / Airborne Campaign Snow Measurements (No/Yes)

No

Yes

No

No

No

No

4. Real-time Snow Measurements (Snowfall / Depth / SWE)

Yes, Snowfall / Depth

No (nearby NOAA station)

No (nearby NOAA station)

Snowfall / Depth

No (nearby NOAA station)

Snowfall/

Depth

5. Snow Records (No/Yes, Timescale)

Yes, 2011-present

No (nearby NOAA station

No (nearby NOAA station)

Yes

No (nearby NOAA station)

Yes, ns

6. Meteorological Records (No/Yes, Timescale)

Yes, ns

No (nearby NOAA station)

No (nearby NOAA station)

Yes

No (neaby NOAA station)

Yes, ns

7. Stream Discharge Gauge (No/Yes, Timescale)

No (nearby USGS Gauge)

No (nearby USGS Gauge)

No (nearby USGS Gauge)

Yes

No (nearby USGS Gauge)

ns

8. Topographic Setting (Steep / Gradual / Flat)

Flat

Gradual/Flat

Steep/Gradual

Steep/Gradual

Gradual

Flat

9. Elevation Range (meters)

~85 m

~60 m

~200-900 m

200-1300 m

220-410 m

~200 m

10. Vegetation (Forest / Shrub / Grass)

Forest / Grass

Forest

Forest

Forest / Shrub / Grass

Forest / Grass

Forest

11. Vegetation Density (High / Medium / Low)

Med/Low

High/Med

High/Med

High/Med

High/Med

High/Med

12. Bare Rock (No/Yes)

No

No

?

Yes

No

No

13. Inland Water (No/Yes)

No

No 

Yes

Yes

No 

Yes 

Table 2. Current SnowEx Candidate Sites for the Western United States (Colorado).

SnowEx Site Criteria

Colorado

Logistics/Airborne Campaign Feasibility

Cache la Poudre

Conejos Basin

Frasier Exp. Forest

Grand Mesa

Niwot Ridge

Storm Peak Laboratory

Uncompahgre Basin (Senator Beck)

Upper Rio Grande

1. Aviation Restrictions (No/Yes)

?

No

?

No

?

?

No

No

2. Airbase Operations (NASA/Commercial)

?

Com

?

Com

?

?

Com

Com

3. Power Source for Field Instrumentation (No/Yes)

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

4. Field Crew Accessible (Easy/Moderate/Difficult)

Moderate

Moderate

Easy

Moderate

Moderate

Easy

Moderate

Moderate

5. Housing/Amenities (Number of People)

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

6. Proximity to Major Airport (Distance)

60 (Den)

242 (Den)

90 (Den)

55 (GJT)

66 (Den)

25 (HDN)

50 (MTJ)

242 (Den)

Experimental Design/Measurements/Science Requirements

1. Sturm et al. Snow Classes&

Tu,Ta,WF,P

Tu,Ta,WF,P

Tu,Ta, P

Tu, WF, P

Tu,Ta,WF,P

Tu,WF,P

Tu,Ta,WF,P

Tu,Ta,WF,P

2. Snow Type (Primary/Secondary)

Dry/Wet

Dry/Wet

Dry/Wet

Dry/Wet

Dry/Wet

Dry/Wet

Dry/Wet

Dry/Wet

3. Existing Field/Airborne Campaign Snow Measurements (No/Yes)

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

4. Real-time Snow Measurements (Snowfall/Depth/SWE)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

5. Snow Records (No/Yes, Timescale)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

6. Meteorological Records (No/Yes, Timescale)

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

7. Stream Discharge Gauge (No/Yes, Timescale)

No

No

Yes

?

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

8. Topographic Setting (Steep/Gradual/Flat)

S,G,F

S,G,F

S,G,F

S,G,E

S,G,F

S,G,F

S,G,F

S,G,F

9. Elevation Range (meters)

2500

1700

1400

3400

2600

1232

3300-3700

1600

10. Vegetation Type(s) (Forest/Shrub/Grass)

Forest

Forest

Alpine/

Forest

Alpine/Forest/Grass

Alpine/

Forest

Forest

Alpine/Forest

Alpine/

Forest

11. Vegetation Density (High/Medium/Low)

Medium

Medium

Medium

Med/Low

Med/Low

Medium

Med/Low

Medium

12. Bare Rock (No/Yes)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

13. Inland Water (No/Yes)

?

Yes

?

Yes

 ?

?

Yes

Yes

 

Table 3. Current SnowEx candidate sites for the western United States (California)

SnowEx Site Criteria

California

Logistics / Airborne Campaign Feasibility

Kings River Basin

Lakes River Basin

Mammoth Mountain

Rush Creek Basin

Southern Sierra Nevada CZO

Tuolumne River Basin

(Tioga Pass / Yosemite)

Wolverton Basin

1. Aviation Restrictions (No/Yes)

Yes

No

No

No

?

No

?

2. Airbase Operations (NASA / Commercial)

Dryden

Dryden

Dryden

Dryden

Dryden

Dryden

Dryden

3. Power Source for Field Instrumentation (No/Yes)

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

4. Field Crew Accessible (Easy / Moderate / Difficult)

Moderate

Moderate

Easy

Difficult

Moderate

Difficult

Moderate

5. Housing/Amenities (Number of People)

No

Maybe

Yes

Maybe

No

No

Yes

6. Proximity to Major Airport (Distance)

49 (FAT)

15 (MMH)

15 (MMH)

30 (MMH)

49 (FAT)

50 (MMH)

77 (FAT)

Experimental Design/Measurements/Science Requirements

1. Sturm et al. Snow Classes

WF, Tu, E

Tu, WF, P, E

Tu, WF, P, E

Tu, WF, P, E

WF, Tu, E

WF, Tu, E, M

WF, Tu, E

2. Snow Type (Primary / Secondary)

Wet/Dry

Wet/Dry

Wet/Dry

Wet/Dry

Wet/Dry

Wet/Dry

Wet/Dry

3. Existing Field / Airborne Campaign Snow Measurements (No/Yes)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

4. Real-time Snow Measurements (Snowfall / Depth / SWE)

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

5. Snow Records (No/Yes, Timescale)

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

6. Meteorological Records (No/Yes, Timescale)

Yes

Some

Yes

Some

Yes

Yes

Yes

7. Stream Discharge Gauge (No/Yes, Timescale)

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

?

Yes

?

8. Topographic Setting (Steep / Gradual / Flat)

S,G,F

S,G,F

S,G,F

S,G,F

S,G,F

S,G,F

S,G,F

9. Elevation Range (meters)

600-3700

2400-3500

CUES site 2940

2000-3700

?

1200-3300

?

10. Vegetation Type(s) (Forest / Shrub / Grass)

Forest / Shrub / Grass

Alpine / Forest

Alpine / Forest

Alpine / Forest

?

Alpine / Forest / Grass

?

11. Vegetation Density (High / Medium / Low)

Med/Low

Medium

Low

Medium

?

Medium

?

12. Bare Rock (No/Yes)

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

?

Yes

?

13. Inland Water (No/Yes)

?

Yes

No

Yes

?

Yes

?

 

Table 4. Other potential SnowEx candidate sites for the western United States (Oregon, New Mexico, and Arizona).

SnowEx Site Criteria

Oregon

New Mexico

Arizona

Logistics/Airborne Campaign Feasibility

Cascades (ForEst)

Jemez River Basin CZO

Salt Verde

1. Aviation Restrictions (No/Yes)

No

?

?

2. Airbase Operations (NASA/Commercial)

?

?

?

3. Power Source for Field Instrumentation (No/Yes)

?

Yes (lower elevation)

?

4. Field Crew Accessible (Easy/Moderate/Difficult)

Easy

Moderate

?

5. Housing/Amenities (Number of People)

? (HJ Andrews?)

Yes (Jemez Springs)

?

6. Proximity to Major Airport (Distance)

70 mi Eugene, 200+ Portland

65 mi (ABQ)

< 100 mi

Experimental Design/Measurements/Science Requirements

1. Sturm et al. Snow Classes

M, E

WF, P

WF, P, E

2. Snow Type (Primary/Secondary)

Wet/Dry

Dry/Wet

Dry/Wet

3. Existing Field/Airborne Campaign Snow Measurements (No/Yes)

Yes

Yes (CZO, LiDAR)

Yes, limited

4. Real-time Snow Measurements (Snowfall/Depth/SWE)

Depth Sensors

Depth Sensors

22 SNOTEL

5. Snow Records (No/Yes, Timescale)

Yes, 2012 – present

Yes, 2004 – present 

?

6. Meteorological Records (No/Yes, Timescale)

Yes, 2012 – 2016

Yes, 2007 – present

Yes, (1960 – present)

7. Stream Discharge Gauge (No/Yes, Timescale)

Yes

Yes, (2009 – present)

Yes, (38 USGS)

8. Topographic Setting (Steep/ Gradual/ Flat)

S, G

?

S, G

9. Elevation Range (meters)

1100, 1300, 1500 m

2060-3433 m

450 – 3850m

10. Vegetation Type(s) (Forest/Shrub/Grass)

Forest

Forest/Shrub/Grass

Forest/Shrub/Grass

11. Vegetation Density (High/Medium/Low)

?

?

High/Med/Low

12. Bare Rock (No/Yes)

?

?

?

13. Inland Water (No/Yes)

?

?

No

 

Table 5. Current SnowEx candidate sites for Alaska.

SnowEx Site Criteria

Alaska

Logistics/Airborne Campaign Feasibility

Chugach Range Glaciers

Thompson Pass

Fairbanks Suite

Toolik Lake

1. Aviation Restrictions (No/Yes)

No

No

Maybe

No

2. Airbase Operations (NASA/Commercial)

Com

Com

Com & Military

Com

3. Power Source for Field Instrumentation (No/Yes)

No

?

Yes and No

Yes

4. Field Crew Accessible (Easy/Moderate/Difficult)

Mod/Diff

Moderate

Easy

Easy/Mod

5. Housing/Amenities (Number of People)

?

?

Yes, plenty

~150

6. Proximity to Major Airport (Distance)

~100 miles

?

10-50 miles

>300 miles

Experimental Design/Measurements/Science Requirements

1. Sturm et al. Snow Classes

Tu, Ta, I

Tu, I

Tu, Ta

Tu, Ta

2. Snow Type (Primary/Secondary)

Dry/Wet

?

Dry/Wet

Dry/Wet

3. Existing Field/Airborne Campaign Snow Measurements (No/Yes)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

4. Real-time Snow Measurements (Snowfall/Depth/SWE)

No

?

Yes, Snowfall/Depth, SWE

Yes

5. Snow Records (No/Yes, Timescale)

No

?

Yes, 1980s-present

Yes

6. Meteorological Records (No/Yes, Timescale)

No

?

Yes, multi-decadal

Yes

7. Stream Discharge Gauge (No/Yes, Timescale)

Yes (USGS gauges)

?

Yes, multi-decadal

Yes

8. Topographic Setting (Steep/Gradual/Flat)

S, G

S,G,F

S,G,F

G, F

9. Elevation Range (meters)

Up to ~4000 m

?

Up to 2000m

~720 m

10. Vegetation Type(s) Presence (Forest/Shrub/Grass)

Forest/Shrub/Grass

Shrub/Grass

Forest/Grass

Forest/Shrub/Grass

11. Vegetation Density (High/Medium/Low)

High/Med

Low

Med/Low

Med/Low

12. Bare Rock (No/Yes)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

13. Inland Water (No/Yes)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

Table 5. Current SnowEx candidate sites for Alaska.

SnowEx Site Criteria

Alaska

Logistics/Airborne Campaign Feasibility

Chugach Range Glaciers

Thompson Pass

Fairbanks Suite

Toolik Lake

1. Aviation Restrictions (No/Yes)

No

No

Maybe

No

2. Airbase Operations (NASA/Commercial)

Com

Com

Com & Military

Com

3. Power Source for Field Instrumentation (No/Yes)

No

?

Yes and No

Yes

4. Field Crew Accessible (Easy/Moderate/Difficult)

Mod/Diff

Moderate

Easy

Easy/Mod

5. Housing/Amenities (Number of People)

?

?

Yes, plenty

~150

6. Proximity to Major Airport (Distance)

~100 miles

?

10-50 miles

>300 miles

Experimental Design/Measurements/Science Requirements

1. Sturm et al. Snow Classes

Tu, Ta, I

Tu, I

Tu, Ta

Tu, Ta

2. Snow Type (Primary/Secondary)

Dry/Wet

?

Dry/Wet

Dry/Wet

3. Existing Field/Airborne Campaign Snow Measurements (No/Yes)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

4. Real-time Snow Measurements (Snowfall/Depth/SWE)

No

?

Yes, Snowfall/Depth, SWE

Yes

5. Snow Records (No/Yes, Timescale)

No

?

Yes, 1980s-present

Yes

6. Meteorological Records (No/Yes, Timescale)

No

?

Yes, multi-decadal

Yes

7. Stream Discharge Gauge (No/Yes, Timescale)

Yes (USGS gauges)

?

Yes, multi-decadal

Yes

8. Topographic Setting (Steep/Gradual/Flat)

S, G

S,G,F

S,G,F

G, F

9. Elevation Range (meters)

Up to ~4000 m

?

Up to 2000m

~720 m

10. Vegetation Type(s) Presence (Forest/Shrub/Grass)

Forest/Shrub/Grass

Shrub/Grass

Forest/Grass

Forest/Shrub/Grass

11. Vegetation Density (High/Medium/Low)

High/Med

Low

Med/Low

Med/Low

12. Bare Rock (No/Yes)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

13. Inland Water (No/Yes)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

Table 6. Current SnowEx candidate sites for Canada.

SnowEx Site Criteria

Canada

Logistics / Airborne Campaign Feasibility

Foret Montmorency

Trail Valley Creek, Inuvik, NWT

BERMS Sites

Blue River

CRHO

Wolf Creek Basin

1. Aviation Restrictions (No/Yes)

No

No

No

No

No

No

2. Airbase Operations (NASA / Commercial)

Com

Com

Com

Com

Com

Com

3. Power Source for Field Instrumentation (No/Yes)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

4. Field Crew Accessible (Easy / Moderate / Difficult)

Easy

Easy/Mod

Easy

Easy/Mod

Mod/Diff

Easy / Mod / Diff

5. Housing / Amenities (Number of People)

?

Field Camp, Housing nearby

Yes

Yes

Yes

?

6. Proximity to Major Airport (Distance)

?

>500 miles

~100 miles

?

~50 miles

?

Experimental Design/Measurements/Science Requirements

1. Sturm et al. Snow Classes

Ta, M

Tu, Ta

Ta, P

WF

Ta, P, I

Tu, Ta,

2. Snow Type (Primary / Secondary)

Wet/Dry

Dry/Wet

Dry/Wet

?

Dry/Wet

?

3. Existing Field / Airborne Campaign Snow Measurements (No/Yes)

?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

4. Real-time Snow Measurements (Snowfall / Depth / SWE)

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

5. Snow Records (No/Yes, Timescale)

Yes, ?

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

6. Meteorological Records (No/Yes, Timescale)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

7. Stream Discharge Gauge (No/Yes, Timescale)

?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

8. Topographic Setting (Steep / Gradual / Flat)

Gradual

G, F

G, F

S,G,F

S, G

S,G,F

9. Elevation Range (meters)

?

50-180 m

500-650 m

400-3500 m

Up to ~2500 m

750-1615 m

10. Vegetation Type(s) Presence (Forest / Shrub / Grass)

Forest / Grass

Shrub / Grass

Forest / Grass

Alpine / Forest / Grass

Alpine / Forest / Grass

Alpine / Forest / Grass

11. Vegetation Density (High / Medium / Low)

High/Med

Low

High/Med

?

High/Med

High / Med / Low

12. Bare Rock (No/Yes)

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

13. Inland Water (No/Yes)

?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes