Since 2014, scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks have conducted snow research in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 1002 area, the first such research since the 1980s. Our research combined extensive measurements of snow depth and density on the ground with aerial photogrammetric mapping at a horizontal resolution of 0.2 m, aggregated to 1 m, and a vertical resolution of ±0.1 m. About 200 km2 of the 1002 area (about 3% of the total) was mapped in April 2018 and again in April 2019, both times near peak snow depth. Maps were calibrated and validated using thousands of ground depth measurements. This report details this analysis and provides context for continuing research.
The work was funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA and was not focused on issues related to oil and gas development. But now, potential oil and gas operations in the 1002 area in 2020 have accelerated the need to be able to delineate current snow conditions and predict future snow distributions. Such knowledge could prove essential for both planning and management since terrain and patterns of snowfall/accumulation are different than in Kuparuk and NPRA. Continuing work is required to establish adequate base information for this analysis.
SnowCover_1002_Area_Aug28_2019.pdf (2.42 MB)