Research Spotlight: Determining the underlying pattern of Arctic snowfall

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Abstract

[1] Across the Arctic terrain, more than a hundred bright orange markers dot the landscape, sticking up from the fallen snow. The fiberglass poles, standing 1.5 meters high and spaced 100 meters apart, allow Sturm and Wagner to track snow depth over their 1-square-kilometer research area in Alaska. These depth measurements may be simple, but trying to turn them into a prediction of future snowfall distribution is far more difficult. A rough estimate of the amount of snow expected in an area can be estimated from weather models, but the smaller-scale distribution of snow across the landscape is often dictated by interactions among wind, topography, and vegetation, factors that models have difficulty simulating. (Water Resources Research, doi:10.1029/ 2010WR009434, 2010)

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