A Storm-by-Storm Analysis of Alpine and Regional Precipitation Dynamics at the Mount Hunter Ice Core Site, Denali National Park, Central Alaska Range
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
In May-June 2013, an NSF-funded team from Dartmouth College and the Universities of Maine and New Hampshire collected two 1000-year ice cores to bedrock from the summit plateau of Mount Hunter in Denali National Park, Alaska (62.940291, -151.087616, 3912 m). The snow accumulation record from these ice cores will provide key insight into late Holocene precipitation variability in central Alaska, and compliment existing precipitation paleorecords from the Mt. Logan and Eclipse ice cores in coastal SE Alaska. However, correct interpretation of the Mt. Hunter accumulation record requires an understanding of the relationships between regional meteorological events and micrometeorological conditions at the Mt. Hunter ice core collection site. Here we analyze a three-month window of snow accumulation and meteorological conditions recorded by an Automatic Weather Station (AWS) at the Mt. Hunter site during the summer of 2013. Snow accumulation events are identified in the Mt. Hunter AWS dataset, and compared on a storm-by-storm basis to AWS data collected from the adjacent Kahiltna glacier 2000 m lower in elevation, and to regional National Weather Service (NWS) station data. We also evaluate the synoptic conditions associated with each Mt. Hunter accumulation event using NWS surface maps, NCEP-NCAR Reanalysis data, and the NOAA HYSPLIT back trajectory model. We categorize each Mt. Hunter accumulation event as pure snow accumulation, drifting, or blowing snow events based on snow accumulation, wind speed and temperature data using the method of Knuth et al (2009). We analyze the frequency and duration of events within each accumulation regime, in addition to the overall contribution of each event to the snowpack. Preliminary findings indicate that a majority of Mt. Hunter accumulation events are of pure accumulation nature (55.5%) whereas drifting (28.6%) and blowing (15.4%) snow events play a secondary role. Our results will characterize the local accumulation dynamics on Mt. Hunter and quantify the relationship between alpine micrometeorological and regional precipitation dynamics, providing key insights into the interpretation of the Mt. Hunter paleoprecipitation record.