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The NFR funded project SNOWPACE (2017-2021) aims to constrain the sources of the Norwegian winter season snow pack from stable isotopes

Moisture sources for precipitation in Bergen in 2013
Moisture sources for precipitation in Bergen in 2013
Harald Sodemann


Current climate and weather prediction models provide information to better prepare against precipitation extremes, and to manage hydropower resources, now and in a future climate. The atmospheric water cycles contribute largely to uncertainty in model simulations. Models continueto use established parameterization for processes such as evaporationand cloud microphysics while increasing to every higher resolution. This implies an urgent need for validating these model's water cycle with new and additional observations.

In SNOWPACE we address this need through a bold approach, leading to significant scientific renewal: we propose to employ stable water isotope measurements to constrain atmospheric moisture transport from source to sink. This will be achieved from dedicated field sampling of evaporating sea water, water vapor from a network of stations in the North Atlantic region, and of snowfall and snow cores of the Norwegian winter snow pack. SNOWPACE uses the new national infrastructure FARLAB and a combination of sophisticated numerical modeling toolspartly developed by the PI to provide new constraints of the atmospheric water cycle from these measurements. The project is closely tied into the international stable water isotope community. Exchange with other scientific communities and potential users will lead to the expansion of disciplinary knowledge. SNOWPACE provides an important and unique scientific innovation both for Norway and internationally.

The new knowledge will pave the way to constrain processes and improve parameterizations in weather and climate models, and for the management of natural resources in a changing climate. Through clearly targeted dissemination of new knowledge, and embedding a partner from energy industry, we establish communication channels towards future applications of the fundamental knowledge gained in SNOWPACE. The legacy of the project will be an open-access data set of all measurements collected during the project. 

The project start has been in August 2017.

Collaborators and partners: John F. Burkhart, University of Oslo (UiO); Stephan Pfahl, ETH Zürich, Switzerland (ETH). Valérie Masson-Delmotte, LSCE, France; Gaute Lappegard, Statkraft AS, Norway.