The Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies
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 communities 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.
Are you interested in learning more about Dust-on-Snow? Visit our Colorado Dust-on-Snow Program website: www.codos.org
Please see our storm reports page where we document the meteorological conditions under which a storm occurred as well as describe how the storm unfolded. If you would like to be included on our Storm Reports E-mail list, please contact Jeff Derry at firstname.lastname@example.org
Water Year 2021
- December 1, 2020: Chris George, founding member of CSAS has retired as President of the Board. Chris’ long career is unbelievable. Pioneered an INSTAAR snow study project in the early 1970’s, helped establish Outward Bound in the United States, advocated for the inception of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, founding member of Mountain Studies Institute, and all around good guy. Read more about this snow guru on our staff page.
- After a record hot and dry summer and autumn we are finally heading into winter. A good start so far in that on October 25 we received 0.7″ precipitation and November 7-9 we received 3.1″ at Senator Beck Basin. It will take a big snow year to dig out from the exceptional drought we are in. Soil moisture deficit is massive and soils are first in line to be replenished before water can make its way to streams.
Water Year 2020
- April 30 and still holding on to a relatively mild dust season so far this spring. Still plenty of dust to affect snowmelt but still considered light in terms of what we usually receive.
- We posted two new journal publications that CSAS participated in on our publications page: USGS researchers authored Dust Deposited on Snow Cover in the San Juan Mountains, Colorado, 2011–2016: Compositional Variability Bearing on Snow‐Melt Effects. And researchers from Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory authored Microorganisms Associated With Dust on Alpine Snow.
- March 10 and going into spring, this is the dust-on-snow season. We currently have a mild dust layer in the Northern San Juan snowpack, discontinuous and at variable depths across the landscape. Snow is expected this week. And SnowEx continues, see this article by the Gazette Telegraph.
- CSAS contributed an article to the Water Report, a newsletter focused on water in the West. The article is a plain language summary of the research and monitoring we do at our Senator Beck Study Basin as well as our state-wide dust-on-snow monitoring. An easy read for anyone wanting to get up to speed on these subjects.
- The snowpack is doing great so far this season. We are at median levels or slightly better so far, keep it coming.
- This February 19-21, 2020 we are offering Snow School for Water Professionals. This combination classroom and field course is ideal for anyone wanting to learn more about the role of snow and our mountain systems as it pertains to water resources. Please contact Jeff Derry at email@example.com with any questions. Get the flyer here to post in your workplace.
- We are pleased to host SnowEx for another winter season. NASA is developing a snow-sensing satellite and is using Senator Beck Study Basin to develop the instrumentation and algorithms. The project, called SnowEx, is a multi-year airborne snow campaign. Its goal is to collect multi-sensor observations, including radar, lidar, multispectral imagery, along with ground-truth observations throughout SBB and other study basins throughout the West. The intent is to determine which techniques work best for measuring snow, and to combine these in a design for the development of a snow-sensing satellite. The first effort began in WY2016 and now we are excited to have them back in WY2020.
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its 2019 report. Read about the impacts of climate change on mountain regions here. Hats off to our Board member Heidi Steltzer for all her hard work contributing to this report. Read this article where Heidi details what this means for the Colorado Mountains.
- After a great snow season in WY2019 and a dry summer and fall, we are now in a new water year (WY2020). As of October 21 we have received 0.5″ of precipitation at Senator Beck Research Basin.
- After much work from many folks a publication of which our Senator Beck Study Basin data is included was published. The paper is titled “Meteorological and evaluation datasets for snow modelling at 10 reference sites: description of in situ and bias-corrected reanalysis data”. The work describes in situ meteorological forcing and evaluation data, and bias correction reanalysis forcing data, for cold region modelling at 10 sites. These long term datasets are the reference sites chosen for evaluating models participating in the Earth System Model-Snow Model Intercomparison Project. The paper can be downloaded at the following link: https://www.earth-syst-sci-data.net/11/865/2019/
Water Year 2019
- Dust on surface but getting covered with even more precipitation, what a big snow year. See the NPR article about Center for Snow related to current conditions that ran May 6, 2019.
- See this article about our Board member Heidi Steltzer and about her important work across the globe including the San Juans
- We received dust event #3 on April 9-10. This was a moderate event, the first one this season, and will play a role in melting the snow this spring. Dust event #1 and #2 were both light events.
- Incredible, the first 8 days of March we received what we usually receive the entire month of March on average. Historic avalanche cycle.
- See you at the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show at the Denver Convention Center January 30 – February 1.
- After a series of productive storms in January we are now near median snowpack. See our storm summary reports for details.
- This February 20-22, 2019 we are offering Snow School for Water Professionals. This combination classroom and field course is ideal for anyone wanting to learn more about the role of snow and our mountain systems as it pertains to water resources. Please contact Jeff Derry at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
- Dismal water WY2018 is now over. October 1-30 we have received 4.7″ of precipitation at Senator Beck Research Basin. A good start to Water Year 2019.
Water Year 2018
- NPR ran a story about dust-on-snow, highlighting CSAS’ work, see story here
- Once again CSAS is offering Snow School for Water Professionals this year from February 28 – March 2, 21018. This combination classroom and field course will begin on Wednesday morning at our office in Silverton and end on Friday afternoon. This class is perfect for anyone wanting to learn more about the role of snow and our mountain systems as it pertains to water resources. Please do not hesitate to contact Jeff Derry at email@example.com with questions.
- Denver International Airport Exhibit: We just installed 4 display cases at DIA focused on CSAS, dust-on-snow, and the science we support at Senator Beck. This three month long display is part of the Colorado Snow & Ice Exhibit and can be seen in the walkway towards Terminal A before you get to security. If you walk from the Main Terminal toward Terminal A, you will soon see the display cases, so even if you intend to go through the main security gate, and have time, the display is still easy to view. As part of the DIA effort, Christi Bode with Moxicran Media, made a 2-minute promotional video. This video is also located at the top of this homepage.
- Upgraded Website: You may have noticed our new and improved website. Initially, you will see pretty much the same content but with a new flare, but we have a number of improvements and new tools in the works that I will share with you as they become available.
Water Year 2017
- Mar 2: Durango TV News recently snowshoed into our research site to learn more about the SnowEx project.
- Jan 6: CODOS Update issued Dust Free So Far and Healthy Snowpack
- Jan 5: Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner speaks with NASA SnowEx project scientist Edward Kim and Center for Snow & Avalanche Studies director Jeff Derry. Learn more at Colorado Public Radio’s website
- Nov 18: Register now for our 2017 Snow School for Water Managers which will be held March 1st-3rd, 2017. Space is limited. Sign up today!
- Nov 1: CODOS issued Center for Snow Update
- Oct 31: The Swamp Angel and Senator Beck study plots have been selected as reference sites for the Earth System Model-Snow Model Intercomparison Project (ESM-SnowMIP,). These sites are of great value to ESM-SnowMIP because of the availability of high-quality meteorological and hydrological measurements at different elevations and over multiple years. ESM-SnowMIP will assess the strengths and weaknesses of snow models as a contribution to the World Climate Research Programme’s Grand Challenge on “Melting Ice & Global Consequences”. The ability of models to predict melt rates for snow with dust loading in the Senator Beck Basin Study Area will be of particular interest.
- Oct 22: Executive Director, Jeff Derry, presented at American Association of Geographers in Colorado Springs and discussed the new SnowEx campaign at SBSB as well as our unique dust-on-snow monitoring program.
- Sep 1: NASA is developing a snow-sensing satellite and is using Senator Beck Study Basin to develop the instrumentation and algorithms. The project, called SnowEx, is a multi-year airborne snow campaign. Its goal is to collect multi-sensor observations, including radar, lidar, multispectral imagery, along with ground-truth observations throughout SBSB. The intent is to determine which techniques work best for measuring snow, and to combine these in a design for the development of a snow-sensing satellite. The team began with “snow off” fly-overs of bare ground
- September 28 – October 4, 2016. “Snow on” fly-overs will take place this February 2017.Since the SnowEx project wants to push current techniques until they break, focusing on challenges presented by forests and extreme topographical relief, SBSB is the perfect venue to collect a unique dataset that will enable snow mission trade studies while also enabling scientific inquiry. In addition, because of SBSB’s long history of lidar airborne campaigns, snow science research with over a 10-year meteorological and stream flow dataset, NASA deemed the SBSB the ideal location to conduct the first year campaign. For more information please visit nsidc.org/data/snowex and snow.nasa.gov/snowex
- Aug 1: CODOS Update issued “WY 2016 Season Summary”
- Feb 19: CODOS Update issued D2 for WY2016 at Senator Beck Basin