Snow Surveys, Kougarok Alaska Andy Monaghan and Hans Klausner, Water and Environmental Research Center, University of Alaska During a five week period in May and early June 2000, snowmelt processes were monitored at Niagara Creek and Mauze Gulch. These adjacent watersheds are located on Alaska’s Seward Peninsula, approximately 80 miles north of Nome. The terrain is rolling, and vegetation is primarily tussock and shrub tundra. Daily snow surveys were conducted at four sites: Niagara Creek Tussock, Niagara Creek Shrub, Mauze Gulch Tussock and Mauze Gulch Shrub. In addition to the surveys, snow observation pits and ablation stakes were used. Also stream gauging was performed three times daily on each creek.
The collected data indicated that breakup came much later on the Seward Peninsula than in 1999, due mainly to a 5 day cold snap from May18 – May 22. This 5 day cold spell had the effect of delaying the melt by about 10 days, as the snow had to overcome the Qcc (cold content) gained during the snap. The size and amount of shrub vegetation seems to have a significant effect on how much snow is present in a watershed at the onset of melt. This is based on two years of observation, as similar trends were seen in the total snow pack estimates for 1999.
Snowpack ablation during spring, 2000 displays remarkable variability among the many sites where snowmelt processes were monitored.
Funding for this research was provided by the National Science Foundation Arctic Systems Science Program (Grant No. OPP- 9818066). Andy Monaghan, Water and Environmental Research Center Hans Klausner, Water and Environmental Research Center