Factors Determining Snow Melt in Alaska

Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775


This project investigates the relative roles of radiation (solar and thermal) and sensible and latent heat on the onset and duration of snow melt in Alaska. We have been investigating the effect of the full atmospheric column on the surface energy balance over a snow surface, with emphasis on the net radiation budget over a surface held at 0 C. Application of our theoretical model to real data for Barrow and McGrath is ongoing, but hampered by several problems with the data. Because of drifting, Barrow snow depth data have a high degree of uncertainty. Water content, and particularly clouds, are poorly measured by atmospheric soundings, and our sensitivity modeling indicates that these data are critical.

Financial support was obtained from NSF Grant DPP92-14953 and Grant No. 9413879.