Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies

Swamp Angel Study Site
Swamp Angel Study Plot (subalpine)

Senator Beck Study Site
Senator Beck Study Plot (alpine)

Putney Study Site
Putney Study Plot (summit)

Senator Beck Basin Stream Gauge
Basin Stream Gauge

St Paul Basestation
St. Paul RF Base Station

The Center for Snow & Avalanche Studies serves the mountain science community and regional resource managers by hosting & conducting interdisciplinary research and conducting integrative 24/7/365 monitoring that captures weather, snowpack, radiation, soils, plant community and hydrologic signals of regional climate trends.

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The Center for Snow & Avalanche Studies and our Senator Beck Basin Study Area serve the mountain science community and regional resource managers by hosting and conducting interdisciplinary research and sustaining integrative 24/7/365 monitoring that captures weather, snowpack, radiation, soils, plant community and hydrologic signals of regional climate trends. Senator Beck Basin is also the home of the Colorado Dust-on-Snow Program. The slide show above illustrates some of the research teams we've hosted, and we invite additional researchers to utilize Senator Beck Basin facilities and data. For more, see the CSAS Fact Sheet.


  • March 23: CODOS Update issued title "Dust-free Snowmelt Underway"
  • March 1: CODOS Update issued title "March 1 SWE Conditions"
  • Feb 16: CODOS Update issued title "Dry Spell, Early Snowpack Warming "
  • Feb 11-13: This year's CSAS Snow School for Water Professionals benefited from warm, dry, and sunny days here in the San Juan Mountains.  Participants Rob Phillips from the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, Nathan Elder from Denver Water, Brenna Mefford from the Wyoming State Engineer's office, and Marta Nelson from Radiometrics Corporation in Boulder came to the session with four quite different job duties and perspectives. 


    From left to right, Nathan (back to camera), Rob, Brenna, and Marta got hands-on snow observing experience in the field each day, following morning indoor sessions focusing on snow climatology, snowpack formation, snowmelt energy budgets, and snow data sources and interpretation issues.

  • Jan 29-30: Chris Landry attended the Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention in Denver, attended by some 500 stakeholders in Colorado water policy and management.  Highlights included panel discussions regarding climate change impacts on Colorado water supplies (where the impacts of dust-on-snow were also mentioned) and 'worst case' drought planning activities among the Upper Colorado River Basin states.  All of our CODOS program supporters and users were present at the meeting, and our former director Eric Kuhn participated, as always, in several of the panels and plenary sessions. 

  • Jan 21: CODOS Update issued title "No Dust-on-Snow So Far, Looking Ahead Using CODOS Experience"

  • Dec 23: We’re very pleased that Senator Beck Basin data are supporting an expanding group of mountain researchers.  Our downwelling longwave radiation and other data were analyzed by Yonghua Chen (Columbia University) and her colleagues in a recent peer-reviewed journal article in Environmental Research Letters.  Mark Raleigh and his colleagues also utilized our data, along with data from comparable study areas, to test snow model sensitivities to errors in “forcing data”.  Still other papers now in review also utilize Senator Beck Basin data … stay tuned.  Also, several presentations at the just-concluded American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting utilized Senator Beck Basin data including two about snowcover modeling, by Mark Raleigh (National Center for Atmospheric Research) and Michael Follum (Army Corps of Engineers).

  • Oct 23: Jay Welz, a graduate student just wrapping up his snow hydrology MSc at Montana State University, came on board as the CSAS field operations manager-in-training.  Jay brings an extensive background in managing field science programs with the US Forest Service and a wealth of snow experience.  More about Jay later this season …

  • September 29 – October 3: CSAS attended the International Snow Science Workshop in Banff, Alberta, and Chris Landry presented a poster and paper on “Desert Dust and Snow Stability”.

    Japanese ISSW participants and others found the CSAS “Desert Dust and Snow Stability” of interest, vis-à-vis there own experiences with dust-on-snow.

  • August 19: CSAS conducted a field tour to the Swamp Angel Study Plot and Senator Beck Stream Gauge for a class of 24 Colorado State University undergraduate and graduate students during their Watershed Practicum in the San Juan Mountains.  Their faculty advisor Dr. Steven Fassnacht is at the far left, pointing toward the tower.  Chris Landry gave the class a talk on dust-on-snow later that day.

  • July 25:  CODOS WY 2014 Summary

  • July 19-27: Third survey of Senator Beck Basin vascular plant community completed: in a marathon effort from July 19-27, botanists Peggy Lyon, Sara Simonson, and Renee Rondeau (left to right in the July 20, 2014 photo to the right) completed our third comprehensive inventory of the Senator Beck Basin plant community.  Gordon Rodda also assisted.   Species and coverage were documented in a total of 230 plots of 0.1 m2 along 23 established transects at three different elevation bands, in the sub-alpine, at treeline, and across alpine tundra.  This dataset complements the original July 2004 baseline data and the July 2009 first repeat study. Comparative analyses will follow.

  • July 17: Senator Beck Basin data presented at the international Global Fair and Workshop on Mountain Observatories, Reno, NV: on behalf of the authors of our recent Water Resources Research article, co-author Dr. Mark Raleigh, from NCAR, presented the 7-year Senator Beck Basin dataset to the “Observing the Mountain Water Cycle” session on July 17, 2014.  Some 180 mountain scientists, from several continents, attended the conference.  Mark's talk was titled: "High elevation headwaters hydrology and snow monitoring at Senator Beck Basin, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, USA: a 7 year dataset"
  • More News

Contact Us:

Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies
1428 Greene Street, #103, PO Box 190
Silverton, CO 81433 USA
Phone: 970.387.5080; Fax: 970.387.5082