Northeastern Section - 53rd Annual Meeting - 2018

Paper No. 1-10
Presentation Time: 11:25 AM


WEISS, Hannah, Geology, University of Vermont, 180 Colchester Ave., Burlington, VT 05405, BIERMAN, Paul R., Department of Geology, University of Vermont, Delehanty Hall, 180 Colchester Ave, Burlington, VT 05405, DUBIEF, Yves, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Vermont, 33 Colchester Ave, Burlington, VT 05405 and HAMSHAW, Scott D., Vermont EPSCoR, University of Vermont, 23 Mansfield Ave, Burlington, VT 05405

Surface air temperatures in New England have increased since the 20th century. Because of this warming, snowfall at low and moderate elevations has decreased, impacting climatic-sensitive tourism operations like ski centers. Many centers have turned to snowmaking, which is energy intensive and must wait into the fall until at least overnight temperatures are below freezing. Another option, used at higher latitudes and altitudes, is the storage of the previous winter’s snow over the summer under insulating layers such as wood chips.

The Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Craftsbury, Vermont supports cross-country skiing and is interested in over summer snow storage. Researchers from the University of Vermont (UVM) Geology Department, Mechanical Engineering Department, and the Spatial Analysis Lab have collaborated to: 1) perform computer-modeling of melt loss from stored snow that incorporates records of soil and air temperature, humidity, wind, solar radiation, and precipitation and 2) create computer models that test various insulation methods. In summer 2018, we will test these models by monitoring volumetric change of two snow piles emplaced in late winter and use these field data to adjust models and improve insulation methods for the following summer.

In support of this effort, we have so far gathered soil temperature and topographic data. Using data loggers, we have continuous records of soil temperature at four depths from two sites since June 2017 (at 20-minute interval). Soil temperature varies significantly less than air temperature and soil temperature variability decreases as depth increases. This relationship allows us to calculate the thermal diffusivity of the soils at both sites, an important parameter in the snow melt models. Using ground-based LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), we have scanned both study locations and produced digital elevation models of bare earth topography. Along with scans made after the snow is emplaced, these models will be used to calculate change in snow pile volume over summer 2018. If our data and models show that over-summer snow storage is feasible, other ski centers could adopt this practice, which allows both for earlier opening and reduced energy use.

  • Weiss Feasibility of Summer Snowstorage.pdf (5.0 MB)