Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2018CO345B

Dirty Snow: Turning Qualittative Assessments into Quantitative Factors for the Effect of Dust on Snow Albedo and Melt Rate

Institute: Colorado
Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $2,600

Principal Investigators: Steven Fassnacht

Abstract: The presence of dust on the surface or within the snowpack has been a driver of earlier melt in Colorado (Painter et al., 2007). Currently, a qualitative assessment of the effect of dust (and related light absorbing particulates) on albedo and snow melting rates is produced by the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies (CSAS). This assessment is used by various public agencies and private companies to predict changes in rate and timing of snowmelt over the short-term (7 to 10 day) scale. The purpose of the proposed research is to provide a quantitative forecast of snowpack albedo considering weather forecasts and the presence of dust within the snowpack. We propose to develop an albedo model that can be used by other models (e.g., NWSRFS, National Hydrologic Model). The specific objectives are as follows: 1) to make the data available to a broader audience, 2) to collect additional data to increase the temporal resolution of the dust on snowpack monitoring, and 3) to distill that qualitative assessment into a single quantitative factor that can be more readily used in melt forecasts. It is anticipated that some of the process will be automated and linked to meteorological data and weather forecasts. This request for funding will support the data collection and analysis efforts for this coming winter (2017-2018), in particular, travel for fieldwork and supplies.