Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: IPY: Collaborative Research: A Prototype Network for Measuring Arctic Winter Precipitation and Snow Cover (Snow-Net) (Award# 0632131)

PI: Sturm, Matthew ( )
Phone: (907) 353.5183 
Institute/Department: U of Alaska, Fairbanks, Geophysical Institute 
IPY Project? YES
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ARCSS\AON
Program Manager: Dr. Neil Swanberg (
Discipline(s): | Cryosphere | Meteorology and Climate |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
This grant, a collaboration between 0632131 (Sturm, CRREL, LEAD), 0632160 (Kane, UAF) and 0632133 (Liston, CSU), will provide a prototype international network where instruments will measure precipitation and snow on the ground concurrently, thereby improving the ability to monitor both of these better. At 5 arctic sites (all identified as key locations in a pan-arctic monitoring network), the field teams will augment existing meteorological and snow measuring instrumentation with solid-state snow pillows, heated plate precipitation sensors, snow fences (to capture the wind-blown flux), and eddy correlation towers for computation of sublimation. The team will conduct ground surveys of snow cover depth, water equivalent, and other properties using tools that allow rapid collection of extensive data several times a year. These will be augmented with aerial photography and airborne remote sensing from inexpensive platforms (kites and UAVs) to visualize drift and deposition patterns. The combined suite of instruments and measurements is designed to allow the researchers to close the winter water balance at each site, for the first time balancing the precipitation with measured accumulation. This project will substantially advance understanding of how best to monitor arctic precipitation and will result in better knowledge of the spatial and historic trends in arctic winter precipitation and snow cover. Within the U.S., this understanding will directly benefit the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), one of the prime agencies charged with monitoring precipitation and snow cover. Similarly, the results of the project will have impact in Canada and Russia, where these agencies are charged with arctic precipitation monitoring (Environment Canada and Roshydromet). Collectively, the group of researchers will form an international arctic snow cover and winter precipitation group that can address the challenges of producing high quality assessments of arctic winter weather trends together. Specifically, as result of the work, this group will a) identify the environmental conditions under which instruments become unreliable and learn how to flag these in the operational records, and b) identify favorable pairings of instruments that facilitate quality checking and which, when used in tandem, produce better data from both instruments. In addition, the project will contribute to the education of a graduate student, and will have direct impact on the general public through the publication of an English-Inupiat glossary of snow terms that will be used in the North Slope Borough School District Bilingual Education Program.

Logistics Summary:
This collaboration between 0632131 (Sturm, CRREL, LEAD), 0632160 (Kane, UAF) and 0632133 (Liston, CSU) will use a prototype international network (Snow-Net) to measure snow on the ground and winter precipitation (snow, sleet, rime, etc) concurrently. Researchers will conduct surveys, aerial photos, airborne remote sensing and other measurements at 5 Arctic sites four times a year from 2007 through 2012. Research will be conducted at Toolik Research Station, located along the Haul Road, as well as in Barrow, Alaska. A third site is located at Trail Creek, outside Inuvik, NWT, Canada; the fourth is at the NOAA climate observatory in Tiksi, Russia. Research teams of 3 - 5 will visit the sites to install instruments, take measurements, and revisit the same, spending several days at each site each time. In March 2007, researchers installed a prototype Snow-Net site at Barrow. Later that summer, researchers visited Barrow & Toolik to install solid-state snow pillows (SSSTs); later in the summer, they installed snow fences and other instruments at these sites via helicopter. 2007-2008 will mark the first full winter of monitoring at the North American sites. Research teams of about 3 will travel to the Alaskan sites, making two trips to each site during this period. From 2008 on, teams will visit each site four times yearly. In the snowy months, researchers will access the Alaska and Canadian sites via snowmachine, and in the summer from the road. They will access their sites at Toolik/Imnaviat and Barrow via helicopter to do the summer maintenance on the sites in 2008. In the summer of 2008, researchers will send instruments to the Tiksi site, where the experiment will be prepared by on-site NOAA personnel to be on-line in the winter of 2008-2009. In 2009, researchers will visit Barrow multiple times for ~4 – 6 days each trip. As a result, a project representative will be onsite some part of every month in 2009 except for July and September. In 2012, collaborator, Doug Kane, recieved a no-cost extension to return to collect additional winter data at Imnavait Creek. He will stay at Toolik for 2 weeks. All data will be archived and submitted to the Arctic Data Coordination Center (ADCC). This project contributes to the IPY-funded International Arctic Systems for Observing the Atmosphere (IASOA), the Carbon, Water, and Energy Balance Flagship Observatories IPY project (0632139, Shaver, MBL, Lead PI) and to the Seasonal Ice Zone Observing Network, which integrates data collected all over the Arctic ( 0632390, Eicken, UAF, PI).

For 2010 only, IAB will provide access to infrastructure and services at Toolik Field Station under the user-day agreement with NSF. NOAA will install, monitor, and maintain the experiment at Tiksi, and ensure personnel make necessary measurements as well. CPS will provide user days at Toolik and Inuvik, subsistence days at Barrow, and snowmachines for work in Canada work. The researchers will pay for all other logistics from the grant. In 2012, the PI Kane received a no-cost extension and will have user days at TFS via direct-to-grant funds, and no support from CPS.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2007Alaska - North Slope3
2007Alaska - Toolik3
2007Alaska - Utqiaġvik (Barrow)3
2007Canada - Inuvik3
2008Alaska - Imnavait Creek3
2008Alaska - Toolik5
2008Alaska - Utqiaġvik (Barrow)3
2009Alaska - Imnavait Creek04 / 19 / 2009 04 / 25 / 20098
2009Alaska - Toolik3
2009Alaska - Utqiaġvik (Barrow)04 / 25 / 2009 05 / 01 / 20096
2009Canada - Inuvik3
2009Russia - Tiksi1
2010Alaska - Toolik3
2010Alaska - Utqiaġvik (Barrow)3
2010Canada - Inuvik3
2012Alaska - Imnavait Creek1
2012Alaska - Toolik1

Generated from:
Parameters used to generate this report:, Grant# = "0632131", IPY = "ALL" 
     Number of projects returned based on your query parameters = 1