The Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX)

Description:

The Cold Land Processes Field Experiment (CLPX) in 2002-2003 was designed to advance our understanding of the terrestrial cryosphere. CLPX focused on developing the quantitative understanding, models, and measurements necessary to extend our local-scale understanding of water fluxes, storage, and transformations to regional and global scales. The experiment particularly emphasized the development of a strong synergism between process-oriented understanding, land surface models, and microwave remote sensing. All data collected during the experiment are now available as a community dataset at http://nsidc.org/data/clpx/. Click here to view the collection preface and to view a list of articles in this special collection. The articles will be presented below as they are published.

Collection coordinators:
Jeff Dozier
Rae Melloh

The Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX)

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Don Cline, Simon Yueh, Bruce Chapman, Boba Stankov, Al Gasiewski, Dallas Masters, Kelly Elder, Richard Kelly, Thomas H. Painter, Steve Miller, Steve Katzberg, and Larry Mahrt

Abstract

This paper describes the airborne data collected during the 2002 and 2003 Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX). These data include gamma radiation observations, multi- and hyperspectral optical imaging, optical altimetry, and passive and active microwave observations of the test areas. The gamma observations were collected with the NOAA/National Weather Service Gamma Radiation Detection System (GAMMA). The CLPX multispectral optical data consist of very high-resolution color-infrared orthoimagery of the intensive study areas (ISAs) by TerrainVision. The airborne hyperspectral optical data consist of observations from the NASA Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS). Optical altimetry measurements were collected using airborne light detection and ranging (lidar) by TerrainVision. The active microwave data include radar observations from the NASA Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (AIRSAR), the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Polarimetric Ku-band Scatterometer (POLSCAT), and airborne GPS bistatic radar data collected with the NASA GPS radar delay mapping receiver (DMR). The passive microwave data consist of observations collected with the NOAA Polarimetric Scanning Radiometer (PSR). All of the airborne datasets described here and more information describing data collection and processing are available online.

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Kelly Elder, Don Cline, Glen E. Liston, and Richard Armstrong

Abstract

A field measurement program was undertaken as part NASA’s Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX). Extensive snowpack and soil measurements were taken at field sites in Colorado over four study periods during the two study years (2002 and 2003). Measurements included snow depth, density, temperature, grain type and size, surface wetness, surface roughness, and canopy cover. Soil moisture measurements were made in the near-surface layer in snow pits. Measurements were taken in the Fraser valley, North Park, and Rabbit Ears Pass areas of Colorado. Sites were chosen to gain a wide representation of snowpack types and physiographies typical of seasonally snow-covered regions of the world. The data have been collected with rigorous protocol to ensure consistency and quality, and they have undergone several levels of quality assurance to produce a high-quality spatial dataset for continued cold lands hydrological research. The dataset is archived at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado.

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Kelly Elder, Angus Goodbody, Don Cline, Paul Houser, Glen E. Liston, Larry Mahrt, and Nick Rutter

Abstract

A short-term meteorological database has been developed for the Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX). This database includes meteorological observations from stations designed and deployed exclusively for CLPX as well as observations available from other sources located in the small regional study area (SRSA) in north-central Colorado. The measured weather parameters include air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, short- and longwave radiation, leaf wetness, snow depth, snow water content, snow and surface temperatures, volumetric soil moisture content, soil temperature, precipitation, water vapor flux, carbon dioxide flux, and soil heat flux. The CLPX weather stations include 10 main meteorological towers, 1 tower within each of the nine intensive study areas (ISA) and one near the local scale observation site (LSOS); and 36 simplified towers, with one tower at each of the four corners of each of the nine ISAs, which measured a reduced set of parameters. An eddy covariance system within the North Park mesocell study area (MSA) collected a variety of additional parameters beyond the 10 standard CLPX tower components. Additional meteorological observations come from a variety of existing networks maintained by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. Temporal coverage varies from station to station, but it is most concentrated during the 2002/03 winter season. These data are useful in local meteorological energy balance research and for model development and testing. These data can be accessed through the National Snow and Ice Data Center Web site.

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D. Marks, A. Winstral, G. Flerchinger, M. Reba, J. Pomeroy, T. Link, and K. Elder

Abstract

During the second year of the NASA Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX), an eddy covariance (EC) system was deployed at the Local Scale Observation Site (LSOS) from mid-February to June 2003. The EC system was located beneath a uniform pine canopy, where the trees are regularly spaced and are of similar age and height. In an effort to evaluate the turbulent flux calculations of an energy balance snowmelt model (SNOBAL), modeled and EC-measured sensible and latent heat fluxes between the snow cover and the atmosphere during this period are presented and compared. Turbulent fluxes comprise a large component of the snow cover energy balance in the premelt and ripening period (March–early May) and therefore control the internal energy content of the snow cover as melt accelerates in late spring. Simulated snow cover depth closely matched measured values (RMS difference 8.3 cm; Nash–Sutcliff model efficiency 0.90), whereas simulated snow cover mass closely matched the few measured values taken during the season. Over the 927-h comparison period using the default model configuration, simulated sensible heat H was within 1 W m−2, latent heat LυE within 4 W m−2, and cumulative sublimation within 3 mm of that measured by the EC system. Differences between EC-measured and simulated fluxes occurred primarily at night. The reduction of the surface layer specification in the model from 25 to 10 cm reduced flux differences between EC-measured and modeled fluxes to 0 W m−2 for H, 2 W m−2 for LυE, and 1 mm for sublimation. When only daytime fluxes were compared, differences were further reduced to 1 W m−2 for LυE and <1 mm for sublimation. This experiment shows that in addition to traditional mass balance methods, EC-measured fluxes can be used to diagnose the performance of a snow cover energy balance model. It also demonstrates the use of eddy covariance methods for measuring heat and mass fluxes from snow covers at a low-wind, below-canopy site.

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Susan Frankenstein, Anne Sawyer, and Julie Koeberle

Abstract

Numerical experiments of snow accumulation and depletion were carried out as well as surface energy fluxes over four Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX) sites in Colorado using the Snow Thermal model (SNTHERM) and the Fast All-Season Soil Strength model (FASST). SNTHERM is a multilayer snow model developed to describe changes in snow properties as a function of depth and time, using a one-dimensional mass and energy balance. The model is intended for seasonal snow covers and addresses conditions found throughout the winter, from initial ground freezing in the fall to snow ablation in the spring. It has been used by many researchers over a variety of terrains. FASST is a newly developed one-dimensional dynamic state-of-the-ground model. It calculates the ground’s moisture content, ice content, temperature, and freeze–thaw profiles as well as soil strength and surface ice and snow accumulation/depletion. Because FASST is newer and not as well known, the authors wanted to determine its use as a snow model by comparing it with SNTHERM, one of the most established snow models available. It is demonstrated that even though FASST is only a single-layer snow model, the RMSE snow depth compared very favorably against SNTHERM, often performing better during the accumulation phase. The surface energy fluxes calculated by the two models were also compared and were found to be similar.

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Rafał Wójcik, Konstantinos Andreadis, Marco Tedesco, Eric Wood, Tara Troy, and Dennis Lettenmeier

Abstract

Existing forward snow emission models (SEMs) are limited by knowledge of both the temporal and spatial variability of snow microphysical parameters, with grain size being the most difficult to measure or estimate. This is due to the sparseness of in situ data and the lack of simple operational parameterizations for the evolution of snowpack properties. This paper compares snow brightness temperatures predicted by three SEMs using, as inputs, predicted snowpack characteristics from the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model. The latter is augmented by a new parameterization for the evolution of snow grain morphology and density. The grain size dynamics are described using a crystal growth equation. The three SEMs used in the study are the Land Surface Microwave Emission Model (LSMEM), the Dense Media Radiative Transfer (DMRT) model, and the Microwave Emission Model of Layered Snowpacks (MEMLS). Estimated brightness temperature is validated against the satellite [Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (AMSR-E)] data at two sites from the Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX), conducted in Colorado in the winter of 2003. In addition, a merged multimodel estimate, based on Bayesian model averaging, is developed and compared to the measured brightness temperatures. The advantages of the Bayesian approach include the increase in the mean prediction accuracy as well as providing a nonparametric estimate of the error distributions for the brightness temperature estimates.

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Janet Hardy, Robert Davis, Yeohoon Koh, Don Cline, Kelly Elder, Richard Armstrong, Hans-Peter Marshall, Thomas Painter, Gilles Castres Saint-Martin, Roger DeRoo, Kamal Sarabandi, Tobias Graf, Toshio Koike, and Kyle McDonald

Abstract

The local scale observation site (LSOS) is the smallest study site (0.8 ha) of the 2002/03 Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX) and is located within the Fraser mesocell study area. It was the most intensively measured site of the CLPX, and measurements here had the greatest temporal component of all CLPX sites. Measurements made at the LSOS were designed to produce a comprehensive assessment of the snow, soil, and vegetation characteristics viewed by the ground-based remote sensing instruments. The objective of the ground-based microwave remote sensing was to collect time series of active and passive microwave spectral signatures over snow, soil, and forest, which is coincident with the intensive physical characterization of these features. Ground-based remote sensing instruments included frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) radars operating over multiple microwave bandwidths; the Ground-Based Microwave Radiometer (GBMR-7) operating at channels 18.7, 23.8, 36.5, and 89 GHz; and in 2003, an L-, C-, X- and Ku-band scatterometer radar system. Snow and soil measurements included standard snow physical properties, snow wetness, snow depth transects, and soil moisture. The stem and canopy temperature and xylem sap flux of several trees were monitored continuously. Five micrometeorological towers monitored ambient conditions and provided forcing datasets for 1D snow and soil models. Arrays of pyranometers (0.3–3 μm) and a scanning thermal radiometer (8–12 μm) characterized the variability of radiative receipt in the forests. A field spectroradiometer measured the hyperspectral hemispherical-directional reflectance of the snow surface. These measurements, together with the ground-based remote sensing, provide the framework for evaluating and improving microwave radiative transfer models and coupling them to land surface models. The dataset is archived at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado.

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Robert E. Davis, Thomas H. Painter, Rick Forster, Don Cline, Richard Armstrong, Terry Haran, Kyle McDonald, and Kelly Elder

Abstract

This paper describes satellite data collected as part of the 2002/03 Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX). These data include multispectral and hyperspectral optical imaging, and passive and active microwave observations of the test areas. The CLPX multispectral optical data include the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), the Landsat Thematic Mapper/Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (TM/ETM+), the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), and the Multi-angle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR). The spaceborne hyperspectral optical data consist of measurements acquired with the NASA Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) Hyperion imaging spectrometer. The passive microwave data include observations from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) and the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR) for Earth Observing System (EOS; AMSR-E). Observations from the Radarsat synthetic aperture radar and the SeaWinds scatterometer flown on QuikSCAT make up the active microwave data.

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John Pomeroy, Chad Ellis, Aled Rowlands, Richard Essery, Janet Hardy, Tim Link, Danny Marks, and Jean Emmanuel Sicart

Abstract

The spatial variation of melt energy can influence snow cover depletion rates and in turn be influenced by the spatial variability of shortwave irradiance to snow. The spatial variability of shortwave irradiance during melt under uniform and discontinuous evergreen canopies at a U.S. Rocky Mountains site was measured, analyzed, and then compared to observations from mountain and boreal forests in Canada. All observations used arrays of pyranometers randomly spaced under evergreen canopies of varying structure and latitude. The spatial variability of irradiance for both overcast and clear conditions declined dramatically, as the sample averaging interval increased from minutes to 1 day. At daily averaging intervals, there was little influence of cloudiness on the variability of subcanopy irradiance; instead, it was dominated by stand structure. The spatial variability of irradiance on daily intervals was higher for the discontinuous canopies, but it did not scale reliably with canopy sky view. The spatial variation in irradiance resulted in a coefficient of variation of melt energy of 0.23 for the set of U.S. and Canadian stands. This variability in melt energy smoothed the snow-covered area depletion curve in a distributed melt simulation, thereby lengthening the duration of melt by 20%. This is consistent with observed natural snow cover depletion curves and shows that variations in melt energy and snow accumulation can influence snow-covered area depletion under forest canopies.

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Jeffrey S. Deems, Steven R. Fassnacht, and Kelly J. Elder

Abstract

Fractal dimensions derived from log–log variograms are useful for characterizing spatial structure and scaling behavior in snow depth distributions. This study examines the temporal consistency of snow depth scaling features at two sites using snow depth distributions derived from lidar datasets collected in 2003 and 2005. The temporal snow accumulation patterns in these two years were substantially different, but both years represent nearly average 1 April accumulation depths for these sites, with consistent statistical distributions. Two distinct fractal regions are observed in each log–log variogram, separated by a scale break, which indicates a length scale at which a substantial change in the driving processes exists. The lag distance of the scale break is 15 m at the Walton Creek site and 40 m at the Alpine site. The datasets show consistent fractal dimensions and scale break distances between the two years, suggesting that the scaling features observed in spatial snow depth distributions are largely determined by physiography and vegetation characteristics and are relatively insensitive to annual variations in snowfall. Directional variograms also show consistent patterns between years, with smaller fractal dimensions aligned with the dominant wind direction at each site.

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