Each spring, a team of researchers from CU Boulder and INSTAAR heads to Arikaree Glacier, the source of Boulder's drinking water, to measure snowpack depth. The data are used to help forecast water supplies and estimate wildfire danger for the coming year. The survey helps maintain an unbroken record of environmental data to measure climate change. INSTAAR's Mountain Research Station supports mountain ecosystem studies for the Niwot Ridge LTER, the Boulder Creek CZO, NEON, and other individual investigators.
Other field measurements for mountain snow hydrology include using Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS). Adrian Harpold partnered with Keith Williams at UNAVCO, Inc. to perform the survey at the National Science Foundation funded Boulder Creek, CO Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) site. A Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) system was used to characterize the forest structure at sites where intensive under-canopy snowpack monitoring is occurring and airborne laser scanning (ALS) has also been employed. Combining the technologies allowed a better estimate of forest structure and snowpack energy balance. Ultimately, this type of information can be employed to increase the effectiveness of land surface models in forested and complex terrain. For more information visit Adrian's paper or the UNAVCO Highlight page.
You may also view these videos on CWEST's YouTube Niwot Ridge playlist.