Aerial Snowline Over West Texas

November 02, 2005

2005_snow_line copy

Provided by: J. Richey
Summary authors & editors: J. Richey; Jim Foster

The scene above showing the snowline over the Texas Panhandle, near the New Mexico border, was taken during a flight from Houston, Texas to Gunnison, Colorado in January of 2005. The brightness of the snow (or its albedo) is primarily a function of the snow depth, the age of the snow and the presence of obscuring vegetation. Factors affecting the positioning of the snowline include the amount of snowfall, the strength of the prevailing winds (stronger winds sublimate snow more readily than light winds), the presence or absence of vegetation, and slope exposure (steepness and azimuth of the slope -- steeper north facing slopes will retain snow longer than gently sloping south facing slopes). Pivot type irrigation is responsible for the circular shaped field plots.

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