Item: Snow climatology of the eastern sierra nevada
Title: Snow climatology of the eastern sierra nevada
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 2006 International Snow Science Workshop, Telluride, Colorado
Authors: Susan Burak, graduate student, Hydrologic Sciences, University of Nevada, Reno, David Walker, graduate student, Department of Geography/154, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557-0048
Abstract: The Sierra Nevada mountain range of California lies between 35° and 40° N latitude and is located within 320 km (200 miles) of the Pacific Ocean. The steep, high elevation (3000-4000 m) eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada lie between 37° and 38° and are less exposed to moderating maritime influences of Pacific storms due to the orographic effect of the Sierra Crest. Previous investigators have classified the snow avalanche climate of the Sierra Nevada as a coastal climate zone, with mild temperatures, large quantities of snowfall and precipitation, low temperature gradients and higher numbers of avalanches than intermountain and continental locations. Most avalanches are storm or solar radiation induced. Long term snowpack records and climate data suggest that the orientation of synoptic scale circulation interacts with the Sierra Crest and the diverse topographic relief to produce a latitudinal gradient of SWE on event and seasonal timescales. Results from this study show considerable variation in snowpack characteristics between field stations spanning less than a degree of latitude. Avalanche danger ratings applied on a regional scale are problematic for an area that exhibits considerable climatic and snowpack variation over a short between reporting stations. Our research investigates the spatial variability of the snowpack along the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada on a daily and seasonal timescale. Weather and climate records are utilized to produce a snow climate classification for four east-side recording stations. The classification is based on general snowpack processes used by Mock and Birkeland (2000).
Keywords: eastern sierra, snowpack climatology, temperature gradient, avalanche forecasting
Digital Abstract Not Available