ERTH 450

Snow Dynamics and Accumulation

Spring 2011

W 8:00-8:50 050 Gaines Hall Hall
F 12:00-5:00 Lab in Field (or 145 Gaines Hall  if not in the field)
(You must be at field site or lab room at 1:00)

Steve Custer
200 Traphagen Hall
Phone: 406 994 6906
Office Hours

Contact info for students is on D2L

Are we going into the Field?  
Did you click Reload?     
Friday, April 29 We will meet in Gaines Hall 145 at 1:00  to share the results of your project work, turn in equipment, and discuss the final.  Because of the size of the class and number of projects each presenter will be allocated 10 minutes per presenation with 5 minutes for questions.  There are 12 presentations which will require three hours of presentations. 

Prerequisites: Jr.  Standing; Ability to use Excel Spreadsheet; Word Processor operation; GPHY 111 Physical Geography;  STAT 216 or 332; Physics 205 or 211 (Newtonian Physics); Ability to ski from top of Bridger Lift or consent of instructor

Required Books:

McClung, D., and Schaerer, P., 1993, The avalanche handbook. The Mountaineers, Seattle, 271p.

Greene, E., Atkins, D., Birkeland, K., Elder, K.,Landry, C., Lazar, B., McCammon, I., Moore, M., Sharaf, D., Sterbenz, C., Tremper, B., Williams, K., 2009, Snow, Weather, and Valanches: Observational Guidelines for Avlanche programs in the United States (2nd Edition): American  Avalanche Association, Pagosa Springs CO, 150 p.  (Note:  The second edition is not yet available on line.  You are expected to have a copy of the second edtion.  The second edition has new material in it.)

Also of Interest:

Greene, E., Birkeland, K., Elder, K., Johnson, G., Landry, C., McCammon, I., Moore, M., Sharaf, D., Sterbenz, C., Tremper, B., Williams, K., 2004, Snow, Weather, and Valanches: Observational Guidelines for Avlanche programs in the United States: American  Avalanche Association, Pagosa Springs CO, 150 p. 

Colbeck, S., Akitaya, E., Armstrong, R., Gubler, H., Lafeuille, J, Lied, K., McClung, D., Morris, E., (eds.), 1990, The international classification for seasonal snow on the ground: International Association of Scientific Hydrology, 23 p.  On the web.

Fierz, C., Armstrong, R.L., Durand, Y., Etchevers, P., Greene, E., McClung, D.M., Nishimura, K., Satyawali, P.K. and Sokratov, S.A. 2009. The InternationalClassification for Seasonal Snow on the Ground. IHP-VII Technical Documents in Hydrology N°83, IACS Contribution N°1, UNESCO-IHP, Paris. 

Avalanche Glossary

Utah Avalanche Center  FAQs   Tutorials

You will also be expected to read some papers on reserve in the library.
Journal Articles:  On reserve in Library.
Optional Book: Glover, T.J., 2000, Pocket Ref (second edition): Sequoia Publishing, Littleton, CO, 542 p.
Other Papers that may be of interest.
Student Equipment
Department Equipment 

Instructor's Backup Link to All Laboratories

Course Schedule ESCI 450 Snow Dynamics and Accummulation
Mon Date Day Topic Reading
Jan 12 W Syllabus, Equipment, Collect Contact Information Discuss Writing Read Syllabus;  *=required
Ch 1

F Lecture Marathon 1-5; Meet in 100 Traphagen  We prepare for field and calibrate intstruments

New Snow   *43-50; 316; 
 *Libbrecht Web PageFierz et al., 2009; Introduction to WaterHexagonal Crystal SystemRotating Crystal

Water Properties

New Deposition *p. 49-52; 36-42; 320;  *Birkeland, 1998a; Cooperstein et al, 2004  Fierz et al., 2009
Lang et al., 1984

Stratigraphy *p. 67-68; 187-190; 192-197; *Fierz et al., 2009; Greene, et al., 2009 p. 21-36

Metamorphism I (if time permits)
*52-68, p.318-319 *Colbeck, 1982;   Birkeland et al., 1998; *Fierz et al., 2009

Writing Expectations
Jan 19
W Metamorphism II *52-68, p.318-319; Colbeck, 1982; Colbeck 1998; Colbeck 2001
  21 F Snow Density  Greene et al. 2009 p. 33
Fierz et al., 2009; Custer 1991 (Skim); Bridger Map
Writing Expectations

Jan 26 W Rapid Strength Assessment
p. 173(end)-181; 226; *Greene et al., 2009, p.36-50;  55-61.
Jan 28
F Snow Pit Stratigraphy Laboratory See Last Friday

 Feb 02 W Snow Strength ECT PST Simenhois and Birkeland 2006; Birkeland and Simenhois ,2008; Ross and Jamieson, 2008; Gauthier and Jamieson, 2006
  04 F Rapid Snow Strength Asssessment

*Green et al., 2009, p. 36-50; 55-61. Birkeland, et al. 1996;  Jamieson and Johnston, 1992; Johnson and Birkeland, 1998; Birkeland and Johnson, 1999 CRST; Fohn, 1987b; Fohn, 1989.

 Feb 09
W Snow Strength -- Shear Frame  *84-87, 95-98,178-179 *Green et al., 2009, p. 66-68. Conway and Abrahmson, 1984; Sommerfeld, 1984; Perla, 1983Trautman, 2007, p. 50-70.

11 F Snow Strength -- PST ECT Greene et al, 2009, p. 51-55

 Feb 16 W Avalanche Factors   *Ch 7 (some review); Ch 8 Myths
  18 F   Shear Strength with Frame *Green et al., 2009, p. 66-68+Web; Birkeland, 1998b; Fohn, 1988;

South Madison Snow Stability Alternative.
Feb 23 W Exam through Snow Strength III
Feb 25 F Route Finding and Decision Making Videos.  Discuss Shear data.  Shear paper due next week. 


Snow Stratigraphic Variablility (canceled this year)
 Mar 02 W Avalanche Factors   118-123;*Ch 7 (some review);* 82-108; 109-118; Ch 6; Ch 8 Myths
Avalanche Safety

02 W Approved Project Plan by 5:00
  04 F Bridger Terrain Tour/ Route Selection 139-143; 181-187
Bridger Map
Old Bridger Air Photo  
New Bridger Sattelite Photo
Digital Orthophoto   NRIS

Avalanche Factors 118-123;*Ch 7 (some review);* 82-108; 109-118; Ch 6; Ch 8 Myths

Project Work Time

Mar  16

 Mar 23 W Avalanche Classification

AAA Danger Scale
*73-80; 90-91; 109-111; 123-128; 134 pics; p. 321-329; Green et al., 2009, 69-83. Int.Nat.Com. Snow Ice, 1981; Canadian Classification and    US Reporting system p.252
  25 F Snow-Water  Measurement *Goodison, 1981; Rovansek, et al., 1993
*NRCS Snow Survey Sampling Guide

Mar 30
W Avalanche Control *123-139; Ch 10
Apr 01
Big Sky Avalanche Terrain and Mountain Planning
Read Lab
Bring Equations
Big Sky Map

Apr 06 W Ram Penetrometer;
Wet Snow Metamorphic
*123-139; Ch 10
  08 F Ram Penetrometer Lab
190-191; 68-72; 143-145;*Colbeck, 1982 (wet snow); Greene et al, 2009, p.62-66.  Excel Ram Profile Program

Apr 13 W Wet Snow Avalanche Trautman, 2007, p. 3-14; *143-145;  Peitzsch 1-22, 30-31 46, 106-112; Skim Sililo and Tellam 2000

15 F Snow Melt Laboratory

 Apr 20
W Avalanche Control
*123-139; Ch 10


Project due at 5:00 PM


Apr 27
Snow Melt Lab Due today at 5:00
April 29
F Oral Presentations of Project

May 04
Final Examination 8:00 - 9:50 AM
 GH 050  Avalanche Factors to End of Course

Examination 1 10
Examination 2 20
Project/Paper  You are encouraged to finish your projects early and present them at the Earth Sciences Colloquium (Date in April) and the University Student Research Celebration (Abstract deadline Date in March; Presentation in April 22-23 )(Written 10; Oral 5)

Disagreements regarding grading: If, after looking at the key, you believe any written product has been miss scored, you may submit your test and a brief written defense of why you believe your work has been miss marked.

All papers for laboratory should be placed in the D2L turn in box (separate boxes for data and for paper and separate turn in areas for each laboratory). Your paper should have your name on it.

Late work will be assessed 10% per day late including weekends and holidays. Work more than 4 days late will not be graded.

Absences: The student is responsible for all lecture, lab, and reading material assigned. There is no simple mechanism to make up a laboratory. For illness there may be possible alternative exercises, but the potential for an alternative exercise depends on the week's activity and will need to be arranged with the instructor. If a make-up is required, the make-up should be done as soon as possible after the missed lab. No end-of semester saves. Arrangements for make-up must be made with the instructor. The student is responsible for making arrangements for laboratory make-up. Role will be taken in Laboratory each week to be certain who is going out of bounds with us. Students are directed to obtain class notes for missed material from another student in the class if a class is missed. Instructor's class notes will not be copied. To make up an absence from an examination, the student must verify illness, severe injury, or family emergency. The student should notify the instructor before the exam to indicate extraordinary circumstances have arisen. His phone has a voice-mail 406-994-6906; email is

Student Conduct: Documented academic dishonesty will result in failure on the piece of work. Repeat offenses will result in course failure.

Please Turn off your cell phone when you come to class.

Students with Disabilities:  If you have a documented disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation(s), you are encouraged to contact your instructor and Disabled Student Services as soon as possible.

Last modified by Steve Custer 17 JANUARY 2011