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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-26
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
18 Apr 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).
Snowmobile Impacts on the Physical and Mechanical Properties of Different Snowpacks in Colorado, U.S.A.
Jared T. Heath1,2, Steven R. Fassnacht1,3,4,5,6, and Kevin J. Elder7 1Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability – Watershed Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado USA 80523-1476
2City of Fort Collins, Water Resources & Treatment, Fort Collins, Colorado USA 80521
3Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Fort Collins, Colorado USA 80523-1375
4Geospatial Centroid at CSU, Fort Collins, Colorado USA 80523-1019
5Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory, Fort Collins, Colorado USA 80523-1499
6Geographisches Institut, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
7Rocky Mountain Research Station, US Forest Service, Fort Collins, Colorado USA 80526
Abstract. Physical and material properties of the snowpack, including snow density, temperature, stratigraphy, hardness, and ram resistance were measured from snow pit profiles to examine the statistical difference between no use and varying degrees of snowmobile use (low, medium and high). The properties were examined across the entire snowpack, from the surface to its base, and for the basal layer of the snowpack. Experimental snow compaction study plots were located near Rabbit Ears Pass near Steamboat Springs, Colorado and at Fraser Experimental Forest near Fraser, Colorado. Significant changes in snowpack properties are associated with snowmobile use beginning early in the snow accumulation season when the snowpack is shallow, as well as earlier in the winter and at the base of the snowpack. These effects were amplified when snowmobile use occurred on a shallow snow covered environment and with increasing degrees of snowmobile use. On the contrary, snowmobile use that began on a deeper snowpack showed no significant changes in snowpack properties suggesting later initiation of use minimizes impacts to snowpack properties from snowmobile use.

Citation: Heath, J. T., Fassnacht, S. R., and Elder, K. J.: Snowmobile Impacts on the Physical and Mechanical Properties of Different Snowpacks in Colorado, U.S.A., The Cryosphere Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-26, in review, 2017.
Jared T. Heath et al.
Jared T. Heath et al.
Jared T. Heath et al.

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Short summary
We conducted a series of experiments to determine how snowpack properties change with varying snowmobile traffic. Experiments were initiated at a shallow (30 cm) and deep (120 cm) snow depth at two locations (maximum depth average 1.5 and 3 m). Except for initiation at 120 cm, snowmobiles significantly changed the density, stratigraphy, and hardness. Temperature was not changed. The results inform management of lands with snowmobile traffic and can be used for modeling grooming on ski slopes.
We conducted a series of experiments to determine how snowpack properties change with varying...
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