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Fieldwork 2018

The 5th Annual Winter Course for Field Snowpack Measurements

January 9-11, 2018

Fraser Experimental Forest, Colorado

This course will give fundamental training to students in making and analyzing snow measurements including depth, density, water equivalence, grain size and shape, stratigraphy, temperature and hardness. Students completing this course will be able to perform high-quality fieldwork and design studies making snowpack measurements.

Course Concept:

As our ability to characterize and model the hydrologic regime in snow - dominated ecosystems continues to improve, there is a parallel need to make meaningful and accurate measurements of snowpack properties. Practitioners often collect and use field data for their own purposes. Modelers and remote sensers often obtain the snowpack data from field practitioners or other researchers, but have little knowledge of meaning or richness of the data they are using. This course aimed to teaching skills to practitioners and modelers in order to increase the quality of the results for all users.


  • Matthew Sturm, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Kelly Elder, US Forest Service
  • Alexandre Langlois, Underversite de Sherbrooke
  • Jessica Lundquist, University of Washington
  • H.P. Marshall, Boise State University
  • Kevin Hammonds, Montana State University
  • Ed Adams, Montana State University
  • Karl Birkeland, US Forest Service National Avalance Center
  • Paul Brooks, University of Utah

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Excavate and prepare a snow pit.
  • Measure profiles of density, snow temperature, grain size, and hardness.
  • Characterize stratigraphy and layering, snow surface roughness, and snow grain types.
  • Use a Federal snow sampler, an avalanche probe, a Magnaprobe, and other snow measurement equipment.
  • Design their own experiment for sampling snow based on specific scientific objectives

Application Eligibility and Requirements

The course is aimed at undergraduate and graduate students, post-docs, professionals and senior scientists, modelers and remote sensers that will make snow measurements as part of their research, or use snowpack data in their research. There are no required prerequisites, but students should be physically able to spend days outside being active in the snow.