Congratulations to Prof. McKenzie Skiles on being awarded this grant!

See the abstract below:

Title: Constraining physical understanding of aerosol loading, biogeochemistry, and snowmelt hydrology from hillslope to watershed scale in the East River Scientific Focus Area

The mountain snowpack is a critical component of regional hydrology, ecology, biogeochemistry, and climate in the Western US. This project will leverage the East River Scientific Focus Area (SFA), located in the upper Colorado River Basin (CRB) in west central Colorado, as an outdoor laboratory to address a significant gap in our understanding of the mountain snowpack. It is well established that 1) net solar radiation, itself controlled by snow albedo, drives snowmelt in almost all snow-covered environments, and 2) the upper CRB consistently receives dust on snow deposition in the spring that accelerates snowmelt timing and amplifies snowmelt rates via snow darkening. What is not well understood is deposition, mixing rate, and fate of other aerosols, how aerosols influences watershed ecohydrology and biogeochemistry processes, and how to model these processes to better represent the role of snow and aerosol deposition in mountain watershed systems.

The project will bring together novel observations of snowpack at multiple scales, including lidar and imaging spectrometer measurements from NASA-JPL’s Airborne Snow Observatory, high-resolution measurements of snow physical and properties, deposited aerosols physical, chemical, and optical properties, tracking of deposited aerosols residence and reaction times in the watershed, and in situ time series of surface energy balance, water flux, and water chemistry. The proposed work will fuse the remotely sensed and ground based measurements with an operational, physics-based hydrologic model, the WRF-Hydro/National Water Model system, to test and improve its capability to represent alpine snow dynamics, and related control on ecohydrologic and biogeochemical processes, from the hillslope to watershed scale.