Colorado mountains
From Long-Term Data to Understanding: Toward a Predictive Ecology
2015 LTER ASM Estes Park, CO - August 30 - September 2, 2015

Trace Gas Flux through snowpack at Niwot Ridge

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Presenter/Primary Author: 
Samuel Rossabi
Detlev Helmig
Daniel Liptzin
Jacques Hueber

A two day study performed in March of 2009 found evidence of biogeochemical processes occurring in soil beneath the snowpack at the Soddie site at Niwot Ridge, of Colorado‚Äôs Front Range. The site is 3340 meters above sea level and receives significant snowfall annually. Methane, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were measured at a few depths within and above the snowpack using a multi-inlet sampling tower. One tower was deployed to an unmodified area, while a second tower was deployed to an area which employed Tedlar sheeting to insulate a section of snowpack from the ground below and from other snowpack on the sides. Results from this brief study indicated that the soil is a sink for some VOCs and CFCs and a source for other VOCs. This is a novel result because CFCs have not been previously thought to have a terrestrial sink. This could be a factor in stratospheric ozone hole recovery and CFC residence times. Building off of these results, the goal of future work is to more fully investigate VOCs and CFCs in the soil beneath the snowpack, as well as within the snowpack itself. A GCMS with a multi-inlet sampling apparatus will be deployed to the Soddie site to study the behavior of VOCs and CFCs throughout snowpack over the course of an entire winter season to investigate diurnal and seasonal trends. Further, the effect of physical variables such as temperature, snow depth and composition, soil composition, and duration, intensity, and angle of sunlight will be evaluated. 

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