Sublimation of Snow

11/01/2022 - 06/19/2023
Project Location
Crested Butte, CO

Snow is vital to water resources, but sublimation may remove 10% to 90% of snowfall from the system. Due to a critical lack of reliable direct measurements of snow sublimation, the physics that governs current rates of sublimation, let alone how those amounts might change with the climate, is not fully understood.

The Sublimation of Snow (SOS) PIs will deploy the Integrated Surface Flux System (ISFS) for winter 2022-2023 in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Surface Atmosphere Integrated Field Laboratory (SAIL) in the East River Watershed, Colorado. SAIL will measure vertical and horizontally distributed wind fields from radiosondes, a radar wind profiler, a doppler lidar, and distributed meteorological stations.

The ISFS system for SOS will provide surface flux observations at multiple levels to better understand how basin-scale wind fields interact with surface turbulence and fluxes. These measurements, combined with energy and mass balance observations and terrestrial lidar scans of the evolving snowfield, will provide benchmarks of the most reliable approaches to measuring snow sublimation in different conditions and improve understanding of sensible and latent heat fluxes in complex terrain.


Principal Investigators:

Jessica Lundquist, U of Washington

Julie Vano, Aspen Global Change Institute

ISFS Lead Scientist

Steve Oncley, NCAR/EOL/ISF

Data Management