Ryan Webb – Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Water and the Environment, University of New Mexico

Photo depicting Unsaturated Flow through Snow

Title: Extending the Vadose Zone: Understanding Unsaturated Flow through Snow
Abstract: The dynamic processes that occur during snowmelt create a complex environment where the lateral flow of water has been shown to be hydrologically significant, though difficult to model. To model this process accurately, representation of snowpack properties and processes at appropriate scales is necessary. This seminar will present new approaches to specifically observe the liquid water content of a snowpack at the plot and hillslope spatial scales and at sub-daily timescales to observe rapid changes that occur during the melt season. These investigations combine multiple methods including ground penetrating radar, LiDAR, lysimeters, and dye tracer experiments. These observations were then used to inform the development of a two-dimensional numerical model to simulate the flow of liquid water through the snowpack at the experimental plot scale. Field observations and simulations were conducted at three sites in the Colorado Front Range. Multiple snowpack conditions are observed by spanning multiple elevations including a plot at the rain-snow transition zone, treeline, and in a high alpine environment. Results of this work offer insights towards snowmelt runoff processes and form the basis for a conceptual model of snowmelt runoff in complex terrain.

Where: RUCH 103
When: Monday, November 11th
Time: 3:00pm
Directions: Map