2023 Undergraduate Research Showcase


Accumulation and Density of Snow at Lower Deer Point

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Ellyn Enderlin


Seasonal snow is an important component of the hydrologic cycle due to its vital role in the ecological processes and water resources. Snow depth measurements and their associated densities are crucial for quantifying the volume of water that can be found in the snowpack. Changes in depth and density over time are controlled by storm events and melt conditions but they vary in space with terrain characteristics such as elevation, slope, and aspect. We used a combination of snow depth probing, snow density pits, satellite imagery, and weather observations to investigate the spatial patterns of snow accumulation at Lower Deer Point and Stack Rock over a three month period. We observed that the density of snow increases drastically with depth, so that deeper snowpacks hold more water because they are thicker and more dense overall.

As snow accumulates, the weight of the overlying snow will compress the layers underneath and will ultimately cause these lower layers to become more compact and dense. Additionally, overall temperature and precipitation can impact density. We obtained weather and precipitation data from the Boise Airport. After comparing our results, the data suggests that temperature fluctuations will cause snow to melt and freeze repeatedly over time, thus creating several ice layers that will make snow denser. Over the three month period, the common trend was that higher temperatures and precipitation amounts yielded a higher density.

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