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Investigations of manual and satellite observations of snow in Järämä (North Sweden)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, LUVAL.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The snow cover plays an important role not only for the whole climate system but also for tourism and economy in the Lapland winter (e.g. dog sledding, snow mobile, etc). Snow constitutes a shelter for animals and plants during the winter due to thermal isolation, but, on the range of this investigation, it can make grazing difficult for reindeers, if the conditions are not favorable.

Different approaches to the study have been made; the first and most important part of the investigation was a campaign in Järämä, in Swedish Lapland. During 3 days (between the 3rd and 5th of March 2009), a series of snow pits were done, recording snow grain size, snow layers depth, snow hardness/compactness, density and temperature. The hardness in the snow was evaluated through ram penetration tests. It was additionally studied the correspondence between the snow layers found in situ and the Sámi terminology.

Another approach of the study consisted of satellite observations during the winter season 2008/2009 with day light in the region. The type of imagery used was MODIS (The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) daily snow albedo and 8-day surface reflectance products.

Measurements of temperature, precipitation, snow depth were used to cover the polar night time when satellite images were missing. According to these weather observations some snow metamorphisms were also studied, and their influence on the snowpack conditions.

Through the comparison between all these forms of data it was found that in the winter season 2008/2009 the conditions for reindeers grazing were not good due to the formation of ice encapsulating the lichens and grass. Additionally several hard snow layers have been found in the snowpack which increase the difficulty to dig in the snow and may cause problems to the reindeers’ digestion.

Snow hardness measurements with a ram penetrometer, manual tests and visual grain size observation proved these discovers. Several periods of positive temperature may cause melting/refreezing cycles contributing to the formation of hard snow layers. These conclusions are supported by the snow albedo and surface reflectance satellite imagery. In these images is visible a period with snow albedo decreasing a lot in the beginning of autumn, after the first lasting snowfall. The weather conditions in early fall, when the first durable snow occurs, are of extreme importance for the reindeers’ grazing, and in the case of the studied winter season, the conditions were not favorable.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 70 p.
Examensarbete vid Institutionen för geovetenskaper, ISSN 1650-6553 ; 258
Keyword [en]
Satellite, Järämä, snow albedo, surface reflectance, snowpack, snow grain size, snow hardness, weather observation, reindeers grazing
National Category
Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-199620OAI: diva2:620593
2013-03-22, Luft-, vatten och landskapslära, LUVAL, Institutionen för geovetenskaper, Uppsala universitet, Villavägen 16, 752 36 Uppsala, Uppsala, 16:23 (English)
Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics
Available from: 2013-05-20 Created: 2013-05-08 Last updated: 2013-05-20Bibliographically approved

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