Summer snow storage

We’re excited to be working with UVM geology on a snow storage test. UVM professor Paul Bierman brings us up to speed on the state of the snowpack.

The snow pile just below the solar panels with its new sensors (measuring chip temperatures) just as the last of the manmade snow melts away.

As the last little bit on snow melts away from the upper snowfield pile, Craftsbury hasn’t lost all of its snow. Nope. It’s been piled up and buried by Keith Woodward under inches of wood chips. The goal here is to see if we can store snow over summer and eventually use it to cover the trails and start skiing in November. How long will this summer’s piles last? June? July? August? How about an epic BKL snowball fight on Labor Day! We don’t know. This is a first time experiment so far south and so low in elevation.

This odd looking contraption holds the sensors used to measure temperatures within the chip layer.

If you look next to the training hill, just below all the solar panels, you’ll see the first pile covered in chips. What you don’t see are lots of temperature sensors monitoring the ground temperature nearby, the temperature in the soil below the pile, and the temperature within the woodchips and in the air just above the chips. These are the data Hannah Weiss (a UVM graduate student) needs to test predictive models of snow melt over the summer so please, look – but don’t touch so she has the best data possible.

Hannah doing the snow density dance on Wilbur’s Pond snow pile.

Down off Lemon’s Haunt, in Wilbur’s old pond site is another Keith creation. A second pile. It too is fully instrumented and Keith’s moved one of the weather stations nearby so we can compare pile shrinkage to all sorts of variables including wind speed, humidity, temperature and sunlight.

Not an alien invasion but the UVM/NSF LIDAR set up to survey the Wilbur’s Pond snow pile just after Keith covered it in wood chips.

Over the summer, Hannah will be out weekly with the LIDAR survey gear mapping the piles and watching them shrink (hopefully not too quickly). Some days we’ll be uncovering a little snow to measure its density. Feel free to ask her or any of us about what’s going on. We’d be happy to share what we know and what we are doing. You can see lots of photographs of the whole process at the UVM Geology page.

It’s cold under all those chips even if the air temperatures are tropical just above the snow piles (those are Celsius temperatures).


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