Marginal Snowpacks: Characterizing and Developing Techniques for Monitoring and Modelling their Hydrological and Ecological Importance and Evolution Under Climate Warming

February 17, 2021

Snow is listed as one of the essential climate variables to be monitored by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. However, much of the traditional snow science has focused on cold, continental areas with well-developed and persistent snowpacks. In the last few years, there has been growing recognition to understand and properly monitor marginal snow environments. Marginal snowpacks are found in areas lying close to the freezing-line elevation, and often present a patchy distribution over the terrain from experiencing several accumulation and melt cycles each winter. These snowpacks are found throughout the world at moderate elevations and mountain environments influenced by a warmer climate. The importance of marginal snowpacks to downstream communities is significant and makes them acutely vulnerable to climate change. Thus, marginal snowpacks are of critical importance for the planning and management of our natural resources. The main objective of this consortium is to set a scientific foundation for improving capabilities to monitor and model marginal snowpacks, creating appropriate tools and protocols to assess their environmental relevance, global mapping of marginal snowpacks under current climate, and identifying the marginal snowpacks vulnerable to disappearance and the snow regions likely to become marginal snowpacks in the future.

Consortium Team:

  • Dr. Juan Ignacio López-Moreno (Spain, The Pyrenean Institute of Ecology)
  • Dr. Ryan Webb (USA, University of New Mexico)
  • Dr. Simon Gascoin (France, Center for Space Studies of the Biosphere)
  • Dr. Nik Callow (Australia, University of Western Australia)
  • Dr. Hamish McGowan (Australia, University of Queensland)