Tracking energy and water in an alpine environment

The development of ecosystems is closely linked to the amounts of available energy and water, and the seasonal timing thereof. In arctic and alpine environments, snow and ice represent large reservoirs, storing water over the winter and releasing it by snowmelt, and/or melting glacier during summer. However, precisely quantifying both energy and water fluxes between the atmosphere and the land surface in such harsh environment remains difficult and uncertain. So to compare our theoretical understanding of such environments with actual observation, we have deployed innovative instrumentation.

For precisely measuring each component of sources and sinks of energy, as well as components of the terrestrial water balance, including precipitation and streamflow, we (at the department of Geosciences , University of Oslo, UiO) have deployed a suite of instruments across the landscape at Finse. The main weather station - located in the vicinity of the Finse Alpine Research Center - provides air temperature, wind speed, air humidity, precipitation, incoming and outgoing solar radiations, snow depth, snow transport, and carbon dioxide concentration. Some of these measurements (wind speed, water vapor and CO2 concentration) are measured 10 times a second (10Hz) enabling so-called Eddy-Covariance analysis of the lower atmosphere. In addition to this baseline record of environmental conditions, we are building a network of wireless stations distributed across the landscape sending data continuously to our database at UiO. Because these stations have a lower cost, we can afford measuring environmental variables at a number of locations rather than relying on a few single sites. 

This innovative and integrated approach in sensing the environment provides deeper insight into the dynamics of energy and water exchanges between the atmosphere and the land surface and between several sub-systems along the surface. We hope to provide a better estimate water inputs, and be able to disentangle accurately where and when energy is available to the ecosystem.

Further information about the projects supporting this work: 

  • The Land Atmosphere Interaction in Cold Environments (LATICE) strategic initiative led by UiO also involves partners from several key universities and research organisations throughout Norway.
  • The NFR project Enhancing Snow CompetencY of Models and Operators (ESCYMO) at the Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo (UiO). ESCYMO is run in partnership with MetNo and the University of Bergen.
Published Sep. 15, 2018 2:06 AM - Last modified Sep. 15, 2018 2:06 AM
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